Here are a few videos we believe adhere to the principles of solutions journalism especially well. These short documentaries use a combination of narrative and data to flesh out pressing social problems, focus on answering the “how,” and explain the limitations and teachable lessons of a response.
By ATUL GAWANDE
Published in FRONTLINE on August 3, 2011
Topic: Healthcare, United States
Summary: “New Yorker writer and FRONTLINE correspondent Atul Gawande reports on a doctor in Camden, N.J., Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, who actually seeks out the community’s sickest — and most expensive — patients.”
What makes this a good solutions story? Within the first minute of this 13-minute documentary, the viewer understands Brenner’s motivation for embarking on this ambitious project, which provides an emotional connect and sense of gravity that carries throughout the piece. Gawande examines the “how” particularly closely, by explaining how Brenner sorted through health data to discover “hotspots” and how he used them for better health results. The documentary also toggles between the individual and the system, by filming sample patients and having voiceovers that put them in a larger context. Finally, Gawande does not shy away from explaining the challenges with using the “hotspot” approach (start at 10:50).
Amidst Drought and Famine, Niger Leads West Africa in Addressing Crisis
By FRED DE SAM LAZARO
Published in PBS Newshour on July 12, 2012
Topic: Famine, Niger
Summary: Eight West African countries suffer from drought and famine. Fred de Sam Lazaro shows how Niger is preparing for its crisis.
What makes this a good solutions story? This 10-minute documentary reverses the conventional wisdom that droughts lead to famine. Lazaro interviews a range of stakeholders to demonstrate that Niger has carefully prepared for the drought and that people are not nearly as worried about starving as in the past. The video offers practical tips that could be implemented in many other West African countries with similar drought conditions.
Egyptians Show Pride as Cairo Cleans Up
By JESSE HARDMAN
Published in TIME in 2011
Topic: Civic engagement, Egypt
Summary: Youth volunteers transform the streets of Cairo, cleaning streets and painting lampposts.
What makes this a good solutions story? This type of solutions story is easily replicable by local news outlets. It has a strong news peg – in this case, the 2011 protests in Cairo – and demonstrates changing attitudes towards the city through the act of civic engagement. The video adds an element of how the painters began and sustained their efforts, which can make a classic “feel good” story a bit richer and perhaps more accessible to viewers.