Examples

Solutions journalism consists of rigorous, compelling, evidence-based stories about responses to pressing social problems. Solutions journalism goes beyond the traditional five Ws of journalism—who, what, when, where, why—to the missing H, the how. Model stories will contextualize a problem, analyze a response, and use compelling narratives to bring it to life. If possible, it will also discuss an idea’s limitations and draw out teachable lessons.

We encourage you to browse these examples of solutions journalism stories, separated across different types of media and different topics. The examples we list vary in how completely and how well they hit these marks, but all have at least a few of the core elements of solutions journalism.


  1. The Best Solutions Journalism of 2015

    December 18, 2015

    Kevin Harber

    Solutions journalism has gained serious momentum in 2015 – We now see reporters in mainstream media frequently adding a solutions lens to their reporting, chronicling society’s successes as well as its challenges. With the year drawing to a close, we’re thrilled to once again share our top picks for the most impressive solutions-oriented reporting of 2015. Enjoy, and join us in 2016 as we continue to reimagine the news.

    1. A Prescription for More Black Doctors by Nikole Hannah-Jones (The New York Times Magazine): This piece on how tiny Xavier College graduates more African-American doctors than any other school tops our list for best solutions journalism of the year. Hannah-Jones makes you care about the characters and their struggles, and shows step-by-step how Xavier helped them overcome these obstacles. Very insightful!
    2. Why Doctors are Prescribing Legal Aid for Patients in Need by Jackie Judd (PBS NewsHour): This televised piece skillfully weaves personal narratives and metrics to provide clear and engaging explanations. Amazing how they made such an arid topic understandable and even attractive. Great combination of storytelling and quantitative information.
    3. Safe Passage by Ben Goldfarb (Orion Magazine): Ben Goldfarb’s long-awaited Yukon-to-Yellowstone opus in Orion. Beautifully told account of a 20-year effort to create wilderness passages for animals.
    4. In School Discipline, Intervention May Work Better than Punishment by Claudia Rowe (The Seattle Times): Part of an ongoing “Education Lab” series assessing alternatives to school suspensions. The articles and related public events hosted by the Times led Seattle’s school board to declare a moratorium on suspensions.
    5. The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous by Gabrielle Glaser (The Atlantic): Gabrielle Glaser weaves a strong narrative with excellent reporting in this piece, investigating what Finland is doing differently when it comes to alternative treatment programs for alcohol abuse, and why the country is succeeding in addressing it.
    6. Inclusion Pays Off by Chris Serres (Minneapolis Star & Tribune): The four story in a five-part investigation of the marginalization of disabled adults in Minnesota. Serres traveled to Vermont to examine how an alternative approach works.
    7. The Surprising City Where Rape Victims Are Finding Justice by Jacob Kushner (TakePart): Reporting on a solution in an unlikely place, Kushner explores how a one-stop center is addressing sexual violence and impunity in Somaliland. He goes one step further to examine the potential of replicating the program in nearby Mogadishu.
    8. How L.A. Gets Kids to Show Up at School by Mary B. Paskiak (Buffalo News): One in an ongoing series that has sent reporters around the country looking for fixes to Buffalo’s ailing public schools.
    9. When Life Gives You Saltwater, Make Shrimp Ponds by Eve Troeh (WWNO): Great headline! Second in the three-part “Delta Blues” series that sent a team from New Orleans’ public radio station to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
    10. The Myth of the Ethical Shopper by Michael Hobbes (Highline, The Huffington Post): Breaking down a complex system into understandable stories, Hobbes leaves the reader feeling well-informed, and not entirely hopeless. A great example of how to explore how solutions don’t always work, and how to adapt approaches within changing structures.
    11. Recycled Kitchens, Salvaged Splendor by Tim McKeough (The New York Times): Shedding light on an up-and-coming trend of finding alternative uses for recycled materials, McKeough looks at how organizations around NYC are capturing and rerouting home fixtures which would otherwise go to waste.
    12. Reducing Blight is Possible, Experts Say by Lex Talamo (The Shreveport Times): A well-reported, concise newspaper story that shows Shreveport residents how other New Orleans cities are successfully combating blight, and how Shreveport could use those ideas. A great example of how solutions journalism can be done outside of long-form narratives.

  2. The Solutions Three: From an Average Salary of $18k to Code Masters

    August 3, 2015

    Solutions Three small logoThis post is part of the “The Solutions Three” series, a weekly newsletter highlighting some of our favorite recent solutions stories across the media landscape. Our goal with the newsletter is to bring to you different, constructive takes on recent headlines–Where are community-police relations strong? Where is ebola being fought the most successfully? How are countries successfully preventing radicalization of their youth?–and to celebrate the journalists and publications doing fantastic reporting on responses to social problems. If you have recommendations for great solutions stories, send them to samantha at solutionsjournalism dot org. And to get “The Solutions Three” sent to your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here.


    Open Access: How a Nonprofit is Giving Techies Without Tuition Their Shot

    Fast Company, July 23
    Neal Ungerleider

    Although learning the basics of coding is easy, Silicon Valley’s culture has a very real tendency to exclude others.Neal Ungerleider explores how a nonprofit in Queens, NY, is expanding tech education, turning participants with an average salary of $26k into code masters. [1,408 words]

     

    [Read more…]


  3. 5 excellent video solutions stories

    July 27, 2015

    We’re always getting asked if solutions stories are just written pieces. In a word: nope! We’ve compiled here 5 great examples of solutions journalism on video on varying topics, some short, some long, but all taking a look at what’s working, and how people are responding to widely-shared challenges. Enjoy! [Read more…]