1. Audio Feature: The Story Behind an Education Lab Story

    May 6, 2015

    EdLab_02Curious how a solutions story comes to fruition?  Keith Hammonds from SJN sat down with The Seattle Times’ Claudia Rowe (reporter), Linda Shaw (editor), and Caitlin Moran (engagement editor) to talk through the making of an Education Lab piece on Pre-K education.

    Here, you’ll hear Rowe, Shaw, and Moran in audio clips that accompany the story. The staff explains its decisions, comment on unique challenges they encountered, and give advice for solutions journalism practitioners at multiple levels within the newsroom.

    What emerges is a hands-on approach to creating a successful solutions project. From identifying a potential story to vetting and interviewing for it, Rowe and Shaw take us through the challenges, breakthroughs, and underlying thinking of the series.  The reporter covers how to find positive deviants; how to decide which one to pursue; and how to look for indicators of results further down the line. The editor discusses her solutions-oriented research approach and sifting through swaths of data. Moran then describes how she fashioned an engagement strategy around the reported story, and discusses how to distill thematic areas before designing engagement events. [Read more…]

  2. Closing the gap: Women’s education rises faster than global average in Botswana, Indonesia

    May 4, 2015

    Hawa Abdi Centre for Internally Displaced Somalis

    Photo Credit: UN Flickr

    Educating women saves lives – and the world is getting better at doing both.

    These are among the many of promising results detailed in a new policy report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), A Hand Up: Global Progress Toward Universal Education. The report, written by IHME’s Lauren Hashiguchi, tracks the world’s tremendous progress in educational attainment, particularly in lower-income countries and for women.

    Research shows that educating women is a powerful driver of improved childhood survival. In fact, studies have found that a one-year gain in maternal education is associated with a 7% to 9% reduction in child mortality. When you consider this protective effect over time, the impact of women’s education is remarkable: between 1970 and 2010, about 4.2 million child deaths were averted due to gains in educating young women.

    Globally, between 1990 and 2015, women of reproductive age (15-44 years old) saw a 41% increase in years of educational attainment. That is, in 1990, women were averaging 6.4 years of schooling (or the equivalent of finishing a bit more than grades 1-6); as of this year, women are averaging 9 years of schooling, a 2.6-year increase. [Read more…]

  3. SoJo Example: In Detroit Hospital, Black Babies Are Latching On

    May 4, 2015


    Photo Credit: Molly M. Ginty

    Author: Molly M. Ginty

    Published In: Women’s eNews, April 20, 2015

    Summary: The first piece in a two-article series explore how Detroit’s Mother Nurture Project connects black mothers with peer breastfeeding counselors to boost breastfeeding rates.

    Why We’re Highlighting This Article: This piece is a quality example of solutions journalism because it explores how a community-oriented approach to “beating the odds and breastfeeding for better health” is working. Ginty frames the problem—that African American women have the lowest breastfeeding rate of any ethnic group in the U.S.—in a broader context, tying this issue to social barriers such as a long-standing practice of relying on breast milk substitues and a “cultural scorn for breastfeeding” which harkens to when black female slaves were forced to be wet nurses; and tying lack of breastfeeding to long-term health consequences in communities, such as high rates of obesity and diabetes.

    Ginty also relies heavily on data to reinforce her coverage of the program’s impact:

    By fostering solidarity among black women, Mother Nurture’s peer counseling program has helped boost breastfeeding rates among its obstetrics patients–the majority of whom are African American–from 46 percent in 2011, when Mother Nurture first launched, to 64 percent today.

    Delving into the how behind this program’s successes, Ginty explores the process by which peer support can convince reluctant black women to try breastfeeding.  Through education and counseling, new mothers are not only informed of the health benefits of breastfeeding, but also brought into a close-knit support network—a “circle of sisterhood.”

    Ginty also examines the program’s clear ripple effect, with some participants going on to become advocates and even full-time lactation educators and counselors themselves.  There are potential obstacles, and a final mark of good solutions journalism is Ginty’s inclusion of caveats to the program’s effectiveness: for example, while this program works well in cities like Detroit (where the majority of residents are African-American), it may not be as effective in cities where black mothers are part of an isolated minority.

    Thus far, the program is “not only boosting breastfeeding initiation among the 10,000 obstetrics patients who have passed through their program, but inspiring patients to breastfeed an average of seven months–longer than the recommended six months.”  It has emerged as a successful approach to raising breastfeeding rates, converting even skeptical mothers with its unique approach.

    This series was partially funded by the Solutions Journalism Network.