CSM EqualEd: Solutions Journalism in Action

As mission-driven communicators we’ve long been fans of solutions journalism – the arduous but invaluable practice of reporting on how widespread social problems get solved, rather than just the problems themselves.

Indeed, there’s something to be said for moving beyond “what’s wrong” and focusing on solutions, as the nonprofit (and past it Award winnerSolutions Journalism Network found in a 2014 Engaging News Project study:

“For many issues that receive ongoing news coverage, what’s most absent is not awareness about the problems but awareness about credible efforts to solve those problems. This omission causes many people to feel overwhelmed and to believe that their efforts to engage as citizens may be futile. Research indicates that when journalists regularly raise awareness about problems without showing people what can be done about them, news audiences are more likely to tune out and deny the message or even disengage from public life.”

(As a side note, this notion rings all too true today for those of us who are eagerly counting down the days until this vitriolic Presidential campaign ends.)

But fear not, news consumers and social-do-gooders! The solutions journalism movement is alive and well – as we can see through thoughtful recent coverage of solutions across the country: from reducing blight to diversifying the medical field to the thorny challenge of ending homelessness in the Bay Area.

And if the research holds true, this kind of reporting won’t just help shed light on best practices for advocates and policymakers; it may very well inspire an influx of civic engagement.  (That same 2014 study found that readers of solutions stories were more likely to start working toward a solution to the issue examined, or donate money to an organization working on the issue.)

This is why we’re especially excited about the newest entrant to the solutions journalism milieu: CSM EqualEd, a new reporting project by the Christian Science Monitor.

In a recent email message to prospective subscribers, the Monitor’s education staff writer Stacy Teicher Khadaroo called CSM EqualEd “a new initiative … focused on youth and equity issues. We’ll be emphasizing student voices and solutions.” The project rolled out its first newsletter this week, featuring in-depth articles on how superintendents are tackling poor-performing schools and battling chronic absenteeism. If you haven’t yet seen it, be sure to sign up for the newsletter, and follow along on Twitter. It’s a promising new venue for all of seeking to move the needle on yet another seemingly intractable societal problem – improving education outcomes for kids in need.

So welcome, CSM Equal Ed! We’re looking forward to the solutions you uncover, and your contributions to the important discipline of solutions journalism.

(If you’re interested in learning more about the solutions journalism movement, check out this helpful Solutions Journalism Network video.)