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Kickass Journalism that
Focuses on Solutions
By reporting on promising practices, reporters can
remove excuses for inaction
Join the conversation with #ONA19SolJourno
What’s solutions journalism?
● Rigorous, evidence-based
reporting on responses to social
problems
● Reporting on something that’s
happening now and the effects it
is producing
Rachel
DISSELL
Senior Investigative
Reporter
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Kickass Journalism that doesn’t
depress your audience
Susan
SMITH-RICHARDSON
CEO
Center for Public
Integrity
Linda
SHAW
Editorial Director
Solutions Journalism
Network
Solutions for Cleveland
Plenty of problems to solve
Rachel circa 1993
My stats
● 18 years of professional
journalism
● 2 newspapers
● 7 years teaching
● 4 years practicing SoJo
● 3 kids (3 fish, 2 dogs, 1 tortoise)
Our SoJo story
It all started with a training
in 2015. Imagine, a room full
of skeptical reporters…...
THIS IS A BIG
CONCEPT
You can also use this slide with images, just lower the
brightness in “Format options.” Find great, free
images at unsplash.com
‘Legacy’
problems
‘We poison our
children, and it's
entirely preventable’
“There was a moral, scientific and
community imperative that the
ordinance passed”
- Wade Norwood, Rochester councilman
Long story
short...
... almost 4 years and
a hundred or so
stories later
People were fighting to solve the problem!
● Set the table with history
○ Past response of overpromising or getting defensive
● No “one route” solution. Prevention was the solution
● Spark that said ‘this is possible’
● Acknowledged the cost, complexity & work ahead
● Looked at systemic & personal solutions
● Sticking around wasn’t easy
Oh, the hurdles
Forgotten Homes
● I came from all the
forgotten
homes/lead fallin'
from the windows
● Created our own lead-safe registry so parents could
search for remediated or inspected homes
● Shared graphics explaining how to mitigate lead risks
● Mayor & gubernatorial candidates to put promises in writing
● Public spending slideshow
Using Solutions Journalism to
report about a vexing
problem
Covering police violence in Chicago after
Ferguson
My SoJo Origin
Story
The Chicago Reporter
had a big idea, and I
had just heard about
Solutions Journalism.
These questions emerged in our early
discussions about the project
● Accountability – Who is responsible, and
who has the institutional power to make
change?
● Learning from others – How are other
cities responding to the issue? How did
they overcome barriers to change?
Solutions journalism is
sharpening accountability.
“People are done with the status
quo. They want to find creative,
alternative solutions.”
Tony Williams, Neighborhoods Organizing for
Change, Minneapolis
● Overcoming the idea that there are PERFECT
examples of responses that fit our situation.
● Vetting responses to problems – e.g., is there
evidence of impact, and are the responses doable
where you live?
Our Two Big Challenges
Workshop your
story with SoJo
One way to get ideas: Solutions Journalism Network’s story tracker
Thank you!
Be sure to visit the many ONA19 exhibitors in the third floor Exhibit Hall.
Rachel Dissell @RachelDissell
Susan Smith Richardson @susaneudora
Linda Shaw @LShawTalk
For more about solutions journalism and the Solutions Journalism
Network, visit www.solutionsjournalism.org where you can sign up for our
HUB.

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Do Kickass Journalism By Focusing on Solutions, Not Just Problems – ONA19

  • 1. Kickass Journalism that Focuses on Solutions By reporting on promising practices, reporters can remove excuses for inaction Join the conversation with #ONA19SolJourno
  • 2. What’s solutions journalism? ● Rigorous, evidence-based reporting on responses to social problems ● Reporting on something that’s happening now and the effects it is producing
  • 3. Rachel DISSELL Senior Investigative Reporter Cleveland Plain Dealer Kickass Journalism that doesn’t depress your audience Susan SMITH-RICHARDSON CEO Center for Public Integrity Linda SHAW Editorial Director Solutions Journalism Network
  • 4. Solutions for Cleveland Plenty of problems to solve
  • 6. My stats ● 18 years of professional journalism ● 2 newspapers ● 7 years teaching ● 4 years practicing SoJo ● 3 kids (3 fish, 2 dogs, 1 tortoise)
  • 7. Our SoJo story It all started with a training in 2015. Imagine, a room full of skeptical reporters…...
  • 8. THIS IS A BIG CONCEPT You can also use this slide with images, just lower the brightness in “Format options.” Find great, free images at unsplash.com
  • 9. ‘Legacy’ problems ‘We poison our children, and it's entirely preventable’
  • 10. “There was a moral, scientific and community imperative that the ordinance passed” - Wade Norwood, Rochester councilman
  • 11. Long story short... ... almost 4 years and a hundred or so stories later
  • 12. People were fighting to solve the problem!
  • 13. ● Set the table with history ○ Past response of overpromising or getting defensive ● No “one route” solution. Prevention was the solution ● Spark that said ‘this is possible’ ● Acknowledged the cost, complexity & work ahead ● Looked at systemic & personal solutions ● Sticking around wasn’t easy Oh, the hurdles
  • 14. Forgotten Homes ● I came from all the forgotten homes/lead fallin' from the windows
  • 15. ● Created our own lead-safe registry so parents could search for remediated or inspected homes ● Shared graphics explaining how to mitigate lead risks ● Mayor & gubernatorial candidates to put promises in writing ● Public spending slideshow
  • 16. Using Solutions Journalism to report about a vexing problem Covering police violence in Chicago after Ferguson
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  • 18. My SoJo Origin Story The Chicago Reporter had a big idea, and I had just heard about Solutions Journalism.
  • 19. These questions emerged in our early discussions about the project ● Accountability – Who is responsible, and who has the institutional power to make change? ● Learning from others – How are other cities responding to the issue? How did they overcome barriers to change?
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  • 25. “People are done with the status quo. They want to find creative, alternative solutions.” Tony Williams, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Minneapolis
  • 26. ● Overcoming the idea that there are PERFECT examples of responses that fit our situation. ● Vetting responses to problems – e.g., is there evidence of impact, and are the responses doable where you live? Our Two Big Challenges
  • 27. Workshop your story with SoJo One way to get ideas: Solutions Journalism Network’s story tracker
  • 28. Thank you! Be sure to visit the many ONA19 exhibitors in the third floor Exhibit Hall. Rachel Dissell @RachelDissell Susan Smith Richardson @susaneudora Linda Shaw @LShawTalk For more about solutions journalism and the Solutions Journalism Network, visit www.solutionsjournalism.org where you can sign up for our HUB.