Jean Friedman-Rudovsky did an excellent job explaining to our class what solutions journalism is when she spoke on Tuesday. Friedman-Rudovsky is formerly of the Solutions Journalism Network and a part of the Reentry Project here is Philadelphia, which is a collaboration of Philadelphia newsrooms that produce reporting which focuses on prisoner reentry in the city from a solutions journalism angle. So, she definitely was able to offer her insight to the class on the dos and don’ts of solutions journalism. She showed us a variety of examples where journalists wrote stories that could have been written in a solutions-oriented manner, but instead were some sort of journalist cliche, such as “hero worship,” “favor for a friend” or “the silver bullet.”
In addition to talking about the TYPE of stories journalists write that don’t have a solutions component, her presentation also highlighted the many different ways that journalists actually WRITE these stories in a non-solutions manner. These methods include: journalists act as whistleblowers and expose wrongdoings, they point out social problems and hope it will spur reform and we act as “watchdogs,” when we should really be “guidedogs.”
However, Jean definitely approached her presentation with a solutions lens because she didn’t just tell us what solutions journalism isn’t, she also told us what it is and how we can go about writing pieces that are solutions-oriented. Some of these solution methods include reporting on what’s happening now and the effects its producing on a community or group of people. She also told us to ask the question: Is there a lack of awareness about a problem? If the answer is yes, maybe it can be suited for journalism that exposes a problem, but if the answer is no, consider a solutions angle. This is a question I will always keep in the back of my head now when reporting on any topic.