European Journalism Centre Publishes New Guide on Solutions Journalism

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Juliette Gerbais, EJC’s Project Assistant

The European Journalism Centre (EJC), an independent Dutch non-profit foundation based in Maastricht, in The Netherlands, that supports and strengthens journalism and the media in the Council of Europe, has published a comprehensive guide on Solutions Journalism, in which it provides practical insights on identifying newsworthy issues and seamlessly incorporating solutions reporting.

Titled “Solutions Journalism: 11 tough questions on how to do solutions journalism”, the Guide is part of a series, coming in the heels of the “Solutions Journalism: an introduction for journalists and newsrooms”, which was launched in August 2023.

Both publications were produced by the EJC in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network, an independent, non-profit organization that advocates an evidence-based mode of reporting on the responses to social problems, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, Washington, in the United States and reported to be the second largest charitable foundation in the world.

EJC’s Project Assistant, Juliette Gerbais, said the Guide was informed by conversations with solutions journalists and the Solutions Journalism Network, explaining that it seeks to address key questions that arise when practising solutions journalism.

The EJC describes solutions journalism as a form of evidence-based reporting that prioritises in-depth coverage of initiatives addressing societal challenges, adding that it goes beyond the traditional focus on problems by critically and transparently examining how individuals and groups are actively working to solve common issues.

According to the Centre, while conventional news often focuses on highlighting what has gone wrong, solutions journalism broadens the perspective, asserting that successful strategies also deserve attention.

The 11 questions addressed by the Guide on how to do solutions journalism are:

• Does solutions journalism mean we should not do problem-focused stories?

• By focusing on solutions reporting, are we not advocating that a problem needs to be solved?

• Since these solutions do not fully resolve the whole problem, should we still report on them?

• How do you determine what problems and responses are worth covering?

• Can we include more than one solution in a single story?

• How much evidence does the response have to have?

• Could the story be boring if the focus is solely on the response and not on the people involved?

• If I encounter a situation where there is a tendency towards hero-worshipping, what should I do?

• At what point is a failed solution no longer a solutions story? What is the right balance?

• How do you produce solutions journalism regularly when you already don’t have enough time?

• How can I make people in my newsroom interested and inspired by solutions journalism?