Editor Toolkit Illustration.

Editor Toolkit

2 hours
What you'll learn

How to institutionalize solutions journalism into newsroom practice on a consistent and ongoing basis. How to communicate the value of solutions journalism to your team, find the time and resources, and work across beats and geographies to surface credible responses.

Three people sitting in a circle in an open office

Dear editor,

If you’re reading this guide, you’re probably interested in bringing solutions journalism into your newsroom. You may have already read the basic Solutions Journalism Toolkit in our Learning Lab, which focuses on the core tenets of solutions journalism and the essentials of reporting great stories. But you still have more questions that get at the higher-level cultural and strategic shifts that fall to you as a newsroom leader:

  • How will your staff find the time and resources to do rigorous solutions-oriented reporting, the kind that asks you to go beyond simply describing the problem to working across beats, across disciplines, and across geographies to surface credible responses?
  • How can you communicate the value of solutions journalism to reporters and readers, especially the skeptics?
  • How do you institutionalize solutions journalism into newsroom practice on a consistent and ongoing basis?

Editors must intentionally lead a transition towards solutions journalism. They set newsroom priorities and determine how stories and series are framed. In many cases, we’ve seen how one enthusiastic, supportive editor can draw out excellent solutions-oriented work, even in the face of institutional hurdles. We’ve also observed that even if newsroom staffers are excited about the idea of solutions journalism, it takes thoughtful, deliberate actions by their editors to make it a part of day-to-day practice.

Here’s the good news: you’re not alone, and you’re certainly not the first to tackle these challenges. In fact, the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) has partnered with over 180 newsrooms to support the integration of solutions journalism into newsroom practice. In our 2017 survey of those partners, 54% of respondents stated that they faced various barriers to practicing or implementing solutions journalism. We’ve learned a lot about the challenges newsroom leaders can face, and we’ve gathered advice from editors who have made the transition to more solutions-oriented coverage. This guide is meant to distill the collective knowledge of these newsroom leaders to prepare those who, like you, might just be embarking on this journey to bring solutions journalism into their work.

In this document, you’ll find tips for overcoming the most common challenges to getting solutions journalism off the ground. You’ll hear directly from editors who have addressed concerns about resources and time, and who have found ways to do solutions journalism at multiple scales – from an individual story, to a series of stories, to configuring an entire newsroom around solutions and enterprise reporting. We will arm you with talking points to counter skeptics, and strategies to organize and manage solutions journalism projects and teams.

As an editor, you are essential to catalyzing this transition; your support and enthusiasm is critical to practice change. We’ve written this toolkit to support you, and we hope you’ll talk back, tweet, or give us a call. We welcome all advice that helps us improve this guide and makes it more useful to the growing network of editors practicing solutions journalism.

This toolkit was produced by Natalie Chang and the staff of the Solutions Journalism Network.