Complicating the Narratives

Journalists are using conflict mediation techniques to surface deeper truths about the communities they cover.

CTN fellows

The Complicating the Narratives (CTN) framework helps journalists use conflict mediation techniques to surface deeper truths about the communities they cover, and provide greater understanding about issues those communities face. An essay by journalist Amanda Ripley inspires this work.

CTN Trainers

Looking to teach your newsroom the tenets of Complicating the Narratives? Tell us about your training needs, and we’ll connect you with one of our network’s CTN trainers.

Alexis AllisonAlexis Allison is an independent journalist and educator. Previously, she covered health for the Fort Worth Report. She has a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, where she studied data and trauma-informed reporting. For her Complicating the Narratives (CTN) Fellowship with SJN, Alexis produced a monthly podcast in which two people who disagree about a health decision talk to each other.

Dana AmihereDana Amihere is a data journalist, designer and developer. She’s the founder/executive director of AfroLA, a nonprofit newsroom covering Greater Los Angeles through the lens of the Black community. Previously, Dana worked in data, interactive design and news apps for KPCC/LAist, The Dallas Morning News, Pew Research Center and The Baltimore Sun. For her CTN Fellowship, Dana produced a CTN-informed, solutions-focused series for and with Los Angeles’ most vulnerable groups.

Sanne BreimerSanne Breimer is a freelance project manager, adviser and journalism trainer for international media organizations, including SembraMedia, Thomson Reuters Foundation, European Journalism Centre, Thibi and the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU). Sanne works remotely and divides her time between Europe and Southeast Asia. She founded Inclusive Journalism, a nonprofit organization aiming to educate primarily Western journalists about media representation and decolonization through a weekly newsletter, online courses and retreats. Before moving into training, Sanne worked at a managerial level in national public broadcasting in the Netherlands for almost 13 years, focusing on radio, digital media and innovation. She is Dutch with Frisian roots.

Sanne is also an accredited solutions journalism trainer.

Chris GreenChris Green blends the techniques of investigative, data, civic and solutions journalism to provide trustworthy information that fuels impactful dialogue. He began his career with Kansas newspapers, first covering local government and then the Kansas Legislature. As the executive editor of The Journal, a civic issues magazine published by the Kansas Leadership Center, he draws on a wide range of influences to shape a nationally award-winning publication that productively tackles hot-button issues. Chris’ CTN Fellowship project sought to complicate the debate around immigration and demographic change in the heartland, and convene folks on all sides of the issue to foster a more productive  dialogue on the topic.

Christopher JohnstonChristopher Johnston has been a freelance journalist for more than 35 years, with articles in The Christian Science Monitor, History Magazine and Scientific American. His book, “Shattering Silences: Strategies to Prevent Sexual Assault, Heal Survivors, and Bring Assailants to Justice” (Skyhorse) was published in 2018. He is a member of the board of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and teaches creative nonfiction at Cleveland State University. For his CTN Fellowship project, Christopher facilitated CTN-guided discussions with the sex worker community on legalizing sex work (prostitution).

Peter LindnerPeter Lindner is the head of projects and research at the Bonn Institute. He worked at the German national daily Süddeutsche Zeitung for a long time, spending almost 12 years as head of the politics section and more than six years as deputy editor-in-chief of He focused on new approaches to journalism and developed several digital formats and projects, such as the SZ “Werkstatt Demokratie” (democracy workshop). In 2022, he worked on “Listen Louder” at the Constructive Institute, housed at Denmark’s University of Aarhus, where he researched approaches to how journalism can promote constructive dialogue in society. He studied political science, sociology and psychology in Munich and Bradford, England.

Sharon RileySharon Riley is an award-winning journalist and the Prairies bureau chief at The Narwhal, a nonprofit online news magazine covering issues related to energy and the environment, where she has worked for six years. Her writing has also been published by The Walrus, Harper’s Magazine, The Tyee and Maisonneuve, among others. Sharon was born and raised in rural Alberta, and if she’s not at her computer, she’s probably in the Rocky Mountains with her family.

Will SchickWill Schick is director of programs and partnerships at the Asian American Journalists Association. Previously, he was the editor-in-chief of Street Sense Media, a weekly street paper based in Washington. For the past several years, Will has reported on housing, homelessness and social programs. Prior to becoming a journalist, he served for 11 years in the Marine Corps.

Swati Sanyal TarafdarSwati Sanyal Tarafdar is an independent journalist with bylines in international publications including The Guardian, Teen Vogue, Ozy and the BMJ. She covers social justice, women in sports, and the environment from Vijayawada, India. For her LEDE Fellowship, she produced “What Can We Do?” — a multimedia series for YouTube covering SoJo stories on social and climate justice, and stories at the intersection of livelihood, health and the environment specifically for young adults in India.

Swati is also an accredited solutions journalism trainer.

2023 CTN fellows

CTN Fellows

As the United States grapples with worsening polarization and seemingly intractable conflict, Complicating the Narratives (CTN) Fellows — U.S. journalists, representing a wide variety of geographies and communities — used CTN techniques to report on solutions to some of the nation’s most divisive issues, with communities historically misrepresented by media and misunderstood by audiences.

Learn about the 2023 and 2022 fellows, and read the solutions journalism stories their projects have catalyzed in this collection.

Stories that Complicate the Narrative

Inspired by Amanda Ripley’s landmark essay of the same name, the solutions stories in this collection "complicate the narrative" through listening, trust-building and working across divides to uncover more authentic solutions to these divisive problems.

The following stories from CTN fellows stand as stellar examples of what happens when journalists use looping, deep listening and other conflict mediation techniques to surface deeper truths and provide greater understanding about some of the nation’s most contentious issues: