1. Solutions journalism is simply good journalism. SOJO leads to more accurate reporting because it covers both problems and potential solutions. This gives readers a more accurate and complete view of society. It’s simply honest reporting.

  2. Solutions-based reporting fulfills journalism’s role as a watchdog. By presenting readers with solutions to problems, this allows them to remain hopeful and engaged with democracy. SOJO also keeps government leaders on their toes. By showing solutions to problems exist, officials have less room for excuses and more incentive to do their jobs well.

  3. Creativity is necessary to find good SOJO pitches. To find potential pitches, journalists should look through academic papers, look for trends in datasets, speak with foundation executives and rely on the expertise of their own beat. Focusing on issues related to a journalist’s beat gives them credibility to report on solutions. Also, journalists shouldn’t forget to pay attention to the problems and solutions people in their own lives are talking about.

  4. Details are essential to SOJO. The small details in regard to how models and organizations function are important in explaining why a solution works or doesn’t. Details aren’t only essential in creating entertaining features, but in informing readers and creating a sense of credibility.

  5. No solutions are perfect. To effectively cover solutions, reporters must be honest about limitations and risks. Reporters must also explain why a solution may not be effective in the long term, or why it may not be a good solution to combat the same problem in different locations.

  6. Individuals can help tell a SOJO story, but they are not the story. Using a subject to create a features element in reporting can draw readers in and hold their attention. But remember to focus on how this person’s story is representative of the larger picture Does their story show how a model functions? Is the person experiencing the effects of a larger social problem?

  7. Organization leaders shouldn’t be the sole focus of a story. While executives or scholars may have important insights, they shouldn’t be the only sources. Focusing on these individuals may lead to stories that read like free PR for an individual or organization. This lessens credibility in the eyes of readers and doesn’t get at the heart of the issues at play. In addition, it is also important to remember that people who are impacted by a problem will have worthy insights that are also compelling and insightful to readers.

  8. Thoughtfully phrased questions are essential in interviews. Be aware that organization leaders may try to spin you. Their aim is to present their organizations in the best light. In interviews, ask what metrics or factors are most important in measuring success and focus on those. Ask direct questions like: “Where is there remove for improvement in the program?” “Where is the program succeeding and where is it failing?” “What do those impacted by the program think?” Also, make sure to ask these questions of multiple sources.

  9. Solutions don’t have to be happening in a given coverage zone to be relevant to this audience. Journalists can localize solutions. In these cases, journalists should look for cities or communities that have similar problems to their coverage zones. Reporting on how these cities or communities are tackling such problems can provide insight into how the journalists’ community can implement potential solutions. Make sure to purposefully choose cities and communities to localize (i.e. similar size, similar government structure, similar funding, etc).

  10. Preparation and creativity allow journalists to incorporate SOJO into regular reporting.  While longer investigative pieces are ideal for SOJO, a solutions-based approach can work in shorter stories by incorporating data, addressing well known problems and explaining less complex solutions. Having pre-written SOJO pieces can also be helpful. Reporters can hold onto these and then publish them at relevant times.