What does the Solutions Journalism Network track?

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We at SJN have assigned four main categories to the impact examples we collect, reflecting the ways we’ve observed change happening as a result of solutions journalism. From the research mentioned above and our tracking of impact stories and anecdotes such as the ones listed below, we know that producing rigorous and evidence-based reporting on responses to social problems can lead to various forms of societal transformation. The examples below specifically showcase outcomes influenced by this approach to reporting, while also overlapping with more common impact metrics, such as those listed above.

We believe this typology can provide a useful reference point for newsrooms seeking to develop their own frameworks for tracking the impact of solutions-driven content. Identifying clear categories and collecting compelling examples can help a news organization’s staff and its constituents — including funders — understand whether and how its work is moving the needle, informing clear-sighted discussion of editorial and engagement strategies.

These are SJN’s four categories, with examples of coverage that fit into each:


Solutions coverage leads to a change in the tone of public discourse, such as more civil conversations, particularly among people with different points of view.

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution [mid-2020]: The Journal-Constitution replaced its lineup of national opinion columnists with more solutions-focused coverage, which resonated with its audience. One reader wrote, “Thanks for pausing the polarizing ‘both sides’ discussions, especially during this time where we all need to come together to provide care and assistance to our neighbors.” Another said: “I appreciate the effort to improve and will look forward to seeing how it works out.” Managing Editor Mark Waligore said the solutions lens has made him and his readers feel smarter and more hopeful, and has helped his editorial team reframe some of its news coverage.


Solutions coverage leads to increased engagement and/or trust between a community and a newsroom, or with a particular issue.

  • Mediacités [June 2020]: Mediacités, a French digital and investigative publication that operates in four major cities across France, produces community-driven collaborative reporting projects. As the pandemic reshaped social life in April 2020, the newsroom turned to its audience to glean story ideas for a solutions journalism series titled “Transforming our cities after the coronavirus.” With a focus on how to preserve social cohesion, it solicited ideas around topics such as local businesses, transport, housing, nature and solidarity. Readers submitted 175 suggestions, using the website’s engagement platform called #DansMaVille (#InMyTown), which led Mediacités’ newsroom to identify 28 potential stories; to date, it has published 14 articles. The digital publication received the 2020 Innovation Award from Médias en Seine for this work.


Solutions journalism holds leaders accountable and results in a change in policy, law or practice.

  • The Current [May 2020]: The Current has demonstrated the impact of solutions journalism in shaping policy around the housing crisis and the use of COVID-related federal funds in Lafayette, Louisiana. A solutions journalism article published in May 2020 showing how other cities across the state were allocating part of the CARES Act relief money into housing assistance, which Lafayette refused to do, was picked up and republished by two other publications in the area. This added scrutiny to the city’s initial decision and emboldened councilors, local housing activists and organizations to put pressure on decision-makers. Ultimately, the city agreed to redirect $200,000 of its housing funds to help vulnerable people pay for rent, mortgages and shelter assistance during the pandemic. “I think that this story really helped to clearly define and elevate the issue and allowed decision-makers to measure their own response against those in other parts of the state,” said Leigh Rachal, executive director of Acadiana Regional Coalition on Homelessness and Housing. She added, “This created the type of peer pressure needed to spur our council members toward seeking additional funds and solutions for the housing crisis.”


Through solutions journalism, a community learns about something happening elsewhere, which sparks discussion and/or action.

  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram [August 2020]: After investigative reporter Nichole Manna wrote about a program in Richmond, California, dedicated to ending cyclical and retaliatory gun violence, Fort Worth established a similar effort. That program, called VIP FW (Violence Intervention and Prevention Fort Worth) uses ex-convicts instead of police to intervene in and mediate conflicts. Manna's follow-up reporting found evidence that VIP FW is helping: In the first few months of its existence, its staff had talked with 175 people, spent 275 hours engaging with known or suspected shooters and mediated 25 conflicts. Its leaders believe they prevented at least 18 shootings.

In addition to collecting examples of impact that derive from your own work, your fundraising pitch can point to newsrooms that have been successful doing similar work to show what you aim to achieve.

This means adopting a similar approach to what reporting with a solutions prism often involves, by asking, “Who is doing better?” and seeking to replicate the methods they have deployed to reach similar outcomes.