Solutions journalism consists of rigorous, compelling, evidence-based stories about responses to pressing social problems. Solutions journalism goes beyond the traditional five Ws of journalism—who, what, when, where, why—to the missing H, the how. Model stories will contextualize a problem, analyze a response, and use compelling narratives to bring it to life. If possible, it will also discuss an idea’s limitations and draw out teachable lessons.

We encourage you to browse these examples of solutions journalism stories, separated across different types of media and different topics. The examples we list  vary in how completely and how well they hit these marks, but all have at least a few of the core elements of solutions journalism.

  1. SoJo Example: “Crime and Blight Still Remain”

    April 3, 2014

    Photo Credit: James Robinson/Fayetteville Observer

    Photo Credit: James Robinson/Fayetteville Observer

    Author: Greg Barnes

    Published In: Fayetteville Observer, Feb. 22, 2014

    Summary: Despite city efforts to combat blight, Fayetteville neighborhoods still face high levels of crime and poverty. As part of FO’s “Seeking Safety” series on solutions to Fayetteville’s crime problem, reporter Greg Barnes looks at successful programs in Spartanburg and Atlanta’s East Lake to see what they’ve done differently.

    Wby We’re Highlighting This Story: Though the piece perhaps focuses too much on the problem (initially, at least), there are many elements that make it a strong solutions journalism piece. Acknowledging the problem is, of course, important to any solutions story. We must understand what we’re trying to solve before we can come up with an effective solution. Barnes acknowledges the problem–despite ad hoc efforts by the city to purchase and renovate derelict properties around the city in an effort to reinvigorate neighborhoods, crime and blight still infest these neighborhoods–and points out why the policy may have failed: the lack of overall strategy by the city.

    Although those improvements help, Fayetteville has no formal master plan – no blueprint for the future – that could be used to transform the entirety of the Old Wilmington Road neighborhood in the same way that the city has been resurrecting downtown’s Hay Street.

    The piece takes a turns for solutions journalism when he points to another city, Atlanta, for a place Fayetteville might look to for strategies: [Read more...]

  2. SoJo Example: “An Afghan Success Story: Fewer Child Deaths”

    March 26, 2014

    Photo Credit: Adek Berry/AFP

    Photo Credit: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty

    Reporter: Sean Carberry

    Aired on: NPR, February 4, 2014

    Summary: During the Taliban rule in 2001, the life expectancy of an Afghan was 45 years. Today life expectancy is up to 62 years, almost entirely attributed to a reduction in the child mortality rate.

    Why We’re Highlighting This Story: This radio piece begins by noting the typical take on most stories about Afghanistan: about “bombings,” “killings,” or “the amount of cash spirited out of the country.” “But you could also focus on a different number: the life expectancy of an average Afghan,” Melissa Block notes.

    The success in this story is the reduction in child mortality rate that has driven up life expectancy 38% in just a dozen years.

    “In 2001, one of every four children died by the age of five. Today, one in ten children die by the age of five,” Carberry notes.

    With a focus on problem solving, the reporter, Carberry, addresses how these gains have been made (through a program administered by the Ministry of Health and Save the Children), the challenges to implementing these changes, and whether they are sustainable. [Read more...]

  3. SoJo Example: “Dealing with blight complaints requires new approach, Memphis says”

    March 21, 2014

    Photo Credit: James Robinson

    Author: Greg Barnes

    Published In: Fayetteville Observer, February 22, 2014

    Summary: In 2011, Memphis decided to attack poverty by focusing on entire areas instead of individual cases.

    Why We’re Highlighting This Article: This article is part of the Fayetteville Observer’s “Seeking Safety” series, which focuses on solutions to Fayetteville’s crime problem. Reporter Greg Barnes consistently produces quality solutions journalism, and this piece is no exception.

    Barnes starts out by covering the problem–the piecemeal way in which Memphis had addressed poverty before 2011:

    For years, Horne said, code enforcement inspectors responded to individual complaints of abandoned homes and vehicles, trash and overgrown properties. The complaints came from residents, elected officials, service agencies and elsewhere, Horne said. The complaints were put into a hopper and doled out to inspectors by type and level of priority. “It was a rather complicated mess,” Horne said.

    Early on, he delves into the policy solution, called “25 Square Blocks.” He then takes the reader through its application in Memphis neighborhoods, addressing how it solved many of the problems that were created by the ad hoc mode of addressing blight and how it is saving the city money. [Read more...]