Health Guide

Course Content
two ambualnces and one poilice cruiser parked on a city corner

Solutions reporting is a little different than reporting a traditional story. But just a little — you’re still going to collect the relevant data, interview experts and talk to practitioners and patients and other affected individuals. You’re still going to get a range of views. In short, it’s just like reporting the news — because it is reporting the news.

The difference is that a solutions story normally emphasizes the how. The question “How did this happen?” is often the tension in a solutions story. People keep reading to solve the mystery of How your characters succeeded when others did not.

In practice, this means that these stories often seek to reconstruct the solution’s history. You’ll ask a lot of, “And then what happened?”

More specifically, here are some interview questions that commonly occur in reporting a solutions story that you might not ask in a traditional story. Let’s say it’s a story on a giant hospital chain that cut its rate of MRSA infection by two-thirds, using a system that starts by taking and testing a nose swab from every patient upon admission, discharge and transfer between units. (True story, and that chain is the nation’s largest: the VA.)

  • How did this idea come about?
  • How was this response different than what you were doing before? Different than what other hospitals do?
  • What was the first thing done to implement it?
  • How did patients react? Doctors? Hospital staff?
  • Who opposed it, and why?
  • What did they do?
  • What happened in response?
  • What was the next thing done to implement it? And after that?
  • Was there a part of this that was easier than expected?
  • What part of this didn’t work well?
  • What was done to fix it?
  • Was there any part that completely failed?
  • And of course, whenever you’re reporting on a problem, ask all your sources: “Who’s doing a better job?”