Position type: Full-time staff for 18 months, possibly renewable
Applications due: August 21. Initial response from SJN: August 28. Hiring decision: September 3 Start date: September 17
Location: Anywhere in the U.S.
Compensation: $75,000-$95,000 annually, depending on your qualifications, plus benefits
Background: Journalism is in urgent need of repair. Its preoccupation with dysfunction, corruption and pathology undermines public discourse, inhibits citizenship, and fails to provide society with key information to self-govern and self-correct. The endlessly negative coverage has fed people’s loss of trust in the news – further eroding journalism’s viability.
The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) is leading a mindset shift and practice change to confront this failure, building capacity for reporting about responses to social problems. Solutions journalism provides a framework, grounded in journalistic ethics and informed by today’s professional challenges, that enables journalists to cover society more comprehensively, revealing possibilities for civic agency and connection.
In SJN’s six+ years, solutions journalism has become a credible reporting practice recognized for driving meaningful impact in society. Over 16,000 journalists have been exposed to our curriculum. More than 200 news organizations have engaged SJN to produce staff workshops, develop reporting projects, and consult on audience or community engagement activities.
SJN has long maintained that solutions journalism can help with both of journalism’s ongoing crises: the existential (they hate us!) and the economic. By telling the full story, instead of focusing on a community’s worst stereotype, solutions journalism can build a better relationship between a news organization and the community it serves.
Solutions journalism is also the kind of news audiences crave. Several SJN partner newsrooms have used solutions journalism in innovative ways to raise revenue. But there has been no systematic effort to map the full range of ways SoJo can make money for newsrooms, especially the small, community, ethnic, red-state or rural newsrooms that need this most.
This pilot project, which is funded by the Google News Initiative, is the first step in filling that gap. If it succeeds (which could lead to a longer, broader project), we can show newsrooms new ways to thrive while doing great solutions journalism.
Role description: We’re looking for a skilled entrepreneur to lead an SJN pilot project with 10 (or slightly more) small or endangered newsrooms. With help from SJN and from others in our network who have already experienced success connecting solutions journalism to revenue generation these newsrooms will learn to do solutions journalism and solutions projects, and will experiment with different ways to use that journalism to produce new revenue.
The project manager will help to choose participating newsrooms, conduct solutions workshops and coaching, and help newsrooms design and carry out revenue projects. These could include leveraging solutions journalism for: membership, subscriptions, corporate sponsorship, grants (from individuals, private and/or public foundations, and donor-advised funds), underwriting of special beats or verticals, community events and more.
We seek a creative, mission-driven, entrepreneurial individual who cares deeply about the health of journalism, especially small local newsrooms that are the most threatened. You should have experience helping community and civic organizations thrive — in new and nontraditional ways. You are expert at seeing possibilities, solving problems and trying new things. You are not afraid of failure.
If the organizations you’ve helped are newsrooms, better still. But we can teach you about newsrooms and train you in solutions journalism, and we have wonderful staff everywhere to help. We can’t teach you to be a creative businessperson.
The role includes the following activities:
- With help and input from SJN staff, including region managers, you will select 10 (or slightly more) diverse newsrooms. They will all face revenue challenges and serve marginalized communities — the kinds of newsrooms most in need of new sources of income. Some may have had exposure to solutions journalism, but none will have integrated the practice into their news cycle nor experimented with solutions journalism as a lever for revenue generation.
- With help and input from SJN staff, including region managers, you will train and coach these newsrooms on everything from story selection and development to publication, messaging and community engagement.
- You will support the newsroom partners in mapping local (and available non-local) assets to discover possible new revenue sources.
- You will work closely with these newsrooms individually and as a network to identify the most promising avenues for revenue generation, ensuring a cross sampling of approaches as noted above. All the work with newsrooms will involve travel.
- You will provide sub-grants to newsrooms for identified needs, which may include: travel for reporting or revenue support, events, purchase of databases, membership fees to the News Revenue Hub, etc.
- You will devise and coordinate measures for success, and track that success.
- With help and input from SJN staff, you will supervise the creation of attractive materials to teach other newsrooms about what we’ve learned.
You will be:
- A self-starter: You work well alone and with others.
- A skilled project manager. You are organized, disciplined, focused. You know how to function effectively with multiple moving parts.
- An experimenter: You relish trying new things and are comfortable with the fact that some will fail.
- An authentic relationship builder: You are a natural at connecting with people. You are happiest when you are engaging with new people and bringing them into your tribe.
All the newsrooms in this project will serve communities that are marginalized in some way. So diversity of perspective, identity, and experience is even more important in this job than usual. We encourage diverse applicants to apply. We make all employment decisions without regard to race, age, gender, sexual orientation, or any other factors protected by federal, state or local law. SJN is an Equal Opportunity Employer.