United States Project

A new partnership is bringing solutions journalism to smaller newsrooms

September 15, 2016

Crime and corruption, troubled schools, drug epidemics, natural disasters—the news deals with some pretty discouraging subjects. 

But it doesn’t have to be negative. In recent years, a movement for “solutions-oriented journalism” that highlights promising responses to social challenges has picked up steam. The Solutions Journalism Network, one of the leading advocates for the approach, has trained newsrooms around the country.

And earlier this year, the network launched “Small Towns, Big Change,” a partnership with seven local newsrooms in southern Colorado and New Mexico designed to bring solutions journalism to smaller communities in the rural Mountain West. Over the summer, I caught up with a few of the people involved in that project: Ben Goldfarb and Leah Todd of the Solutions Journalism Network and reporter J.R. Logan of the Taos News, one of the participating news outlets. We talked about how to write a “solutions” story without it coming off like a puff piece, why newsrooms who might normally compete with each other decided to collaborate, and how a solutions-oriented approach creates opportunities for local outlets to take a broader perspective. 

You can stream the conversation from the embedded player below or, to listen to it via CJR’s iTunes library, click here.

Corey Hutchins is CJR’s correspondent based in Colorado, where he teaches journalism at Colorado College. A former alt-weekly reporter in South Carolina, he was twice named journalist of the year in the weekly division by the SC Press Association. Hutchins writes about politics and media for the Colorado Independent and worked on the State Integrity Investigation at the Center for Public Integrity; he has contributed to Slate, The Nation, the Washington Post, and others. Follow him on Twitter @coreyhutchins or email him at coreyhutchins@gmail.com.