This collection was curated by the Solutions Journalism Network for you, XXX. We invite you to read the stories in this collection to expand and deepen your understanding of the challenges and opportunities about XXX.
More and more people around the world are saying how tired they are of the 24-hour news cycle and seeing negative news on their news feeds. In fact, in the United States, about 66 percent of respondents to a survey say they’re experiencing news fatigue. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend with people getting worn out by the deluge of information, leaving them feeling depressed and powerless. In the United Kingdom, about 56 percent of respondents who said they avoid news about COVID-19 say it’s because “it had a bad effect on my mood.” And about 71 percent of Australians say they avoid coronavirus news because they're tired of. it. These figures shouldn’t be surprising because a lot of journalism tends to focus on society’s problems and what’s going wrong.
Solutions journalism strives to flip that narrative on its head. Instead, stories focus on what’s working, how communities respond to problems, and how effective those solutions are. The stories in this collection highlight strong examples of rigorous, evidence-based reporting on responses to social problems and the impact that these stories can have on engaging audiences and leading to real-world change. The questions that accompany these stories are designed to help you think about the key ingredients that make a good solutions story and to reflect on your own news consumption habits.
You can find solutions journalism stories on the websites of many news organizations (check out more about that here), and we encourage to see if your favorite news outlet does this type of reporting. And if you want to quickly find stories on an issue you care about, you can do that by searching the Solutions Story Tracker, a resource that is available to you as a college student for free.
Finally, if you want to add stories you find to this collection, or create a new collection on another topic, you can do that, as well.
1. With this collection open, click on the LOGIN/REGISTER button in the upper right corner of the website and select Register Here.
2. In the "Join Today" box, select that you are "Not a journalist, but I want to learn about solutions."
3. Fill in the rest of the information — that you are a student, your name and email, create a password (anything will do, we're not picky), and in the referred by box, please add your professor's name.
4. Now, open the collection again and this time, click on the "Copy and Customize" button to the right. Now the collection is yours to add to as you'd like. When you want to come back to it, you'll find it saved to "My Collections" under your name in the upper right corner of the page.
5. When you find a story you'd like to add to the collection, simply click on the bullet icon in the story detail page and select this collection to add the story.
6. To create a new collection from scratch, just click the bullet icon in the story detail page and instead of adding a story to an existing collection, select "create a new collection."
Here's a custom search link in the SST of stories that focus on solutions to XXX to get you started!
1. What are your news consumption habits? Do you check in with one or more news outlets on a daily basis? Are you a news avoider? In either case, does reading solutions journalism stories make you feel differently about consuming news? Why or why not?
2. In “Can Vote by Mail Work in Low Income Minority Neighborhoods?,” what evidence does the reporter present that mail-in voting worked? What were the limitations of the approach? Does voting take place by mail in your state?
3. What is the social problem that “The Business of Burps: Scientists Smell Profit in Cow Emissions” focuses on? What is the response to that problem? Do you agree with the response?
4. Use the Story Tracker to find a solutions story/topic that you are passionate about that you would recommend to someone else. Why did you find this story compelling enough to share?
INTRODUCTION TO STORIES IN THE COLLECTION
"Balancing out the doom and gloom: Why we're producing more journalism with a glass-half-full outlook" illustrates how the Australian Broadcasting Corporation made a commitment to doing more solutions stories about affordable housing, stormwater, and obesity to highlight what people are already doing to tackle these problems.
The story "Can Vote by Mail Work in Low Income Minority Neighborhoods?" focuses on mail-in voting in the United States. Washington Monthly staff member Eric Cortellessa wrote a previous solutions story about how Utah implemented statewide all-mail election campaigns that improved voter turnout. After writing an opinion piece about how Maryland could make the same transition, election officials made the switch to voting by mail. The story in this collection reports on the effectiveness of that approach, which showed some success since voter turnout increased.
"Can outdoor teaching enable Italy to safely reopen schools?" highlights a response that was implemented in one place that inspired a similar approach in another. Schools in Italy held trial reopenings after shutting down due to the coronavirus and modeled their classroom environments after Denmark’s outdoor classes.
The story "The Business of Burps: Scientists Smell Profit in Cow Emissions" is a strong solutions story about a Swiss company that wants to change a cow’s diet to decrease the greenhouse gas emissions emitted from the bovine via belching and flatulating. This story provides a detailed description of how the response works with a healthy dose of skepticism from scientists about its effectiveness.
ANSWERS TO DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1. Answers will vary. Some students might find that solutions stories make them feel more informed about a specific topic or feel better about the work being done to tackle various social problems. Some studies on solutions journalism found that readers of solutions-based news articles are more likely to have a heightened sense of efficacy and a positive attitude toward the story and the response.
2. In the story, the author reports on Maryland's special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings and how successful the state was in pivoting to mail-in voting. For evidence of success, the reporter says that voter turnout in Maryland overall increased 10 percentage points compared with February’s primary election, which was a more competitive race. He also says that voters throughout the district overwhelmingly voted at home, with 157,075 people casting ballots by mail and only 1,009 people casting them at one of the three polling places. For limitations of the response, the author states that there was some confusion with the vote-by-mail system by including interviews with residents who had trouble with it. The reporter also found that while voting by mail turned out more voters in the congressional district overall, the gap between people voting in Baltimore City and the surrounding whiter and richer counties actually widened.
3. When cows belch (and to a much lesser extent when they flatulate), they release methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change. According to the story, there are about 1.4 billion cattle globally, with each cow emitting the equivalent of 1.5 to 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, roughly half the output of an average American car. If they were a country, cows would rank as the world’s sixth-largest emitter of methane. To combat that problem, a Swiss company called Mootral is studying whether an altered diet can make these bovines emit less of the greenhouse gas.
4. Answers will vary. Students can use the search bar and advanced search settings to narrow in on stories within a specific topic like democracy, health, education, economic equality, criminal justice, and environment and agriculture. You can also prompt students to look in the Story Tracker to find solutions stories related to a current event or topic that is prevalent in the news.