Liza Gross: “Solutions Journalism is also an approach for moments of crisis”
18 March, 2020
On Tuesday morning, March 17th, Liza Gross opened the cycle of conversations # WINN2020 with a webinar on Solution Journalism, which was joined by more than 70 professionals from 7 countries in America and Europe. The context of health emergency gave the meeting a particular interest, when considering how to manage audiences saturated with negative […]

On Tuesday morning, March 17th, Liza Gross opened the cycle of conversations # WINN2020 with a webinar on Solution Journalism, which was joined by more than 70 professionals from 7 countries in America and Europe. The context of health emergency gave the meeting a particular interest, when considering how to manage audiences saturated with negative information.

Liza Gross is vice president of the Solutions Journalism Network, a New York-based organization that since 2013 offers trainings and connects journalists, media editors, and educators to change the culture of news. Since its founding, SJN has trained 15,000 journalists from around the world.

What is and what is not solutions journalism?

Gross affirmed that the solutions journalism is not a “movement” that seeks the positive aspects of reality, nor is it citizen journalism. “Solution journalism is coverage and rigorous, based on evidence of responses to social problems,” said the former director of the Miami Herald.

And she highlighted some characteristics of this approach, as opposed to traditional journalism. Solutions Journalism is:

  • Skeptical (questions everything)
  • Explanatory, because it focuses on the process and not on personalities
  • Evidence-based (if the databases are outdated, you have to create them and find other ways to get to the information)
  • Oriented towards functional aspects (what is going well)
  • Applicable to any topic: health, environment, education, politics.
  • Executable on any platform and can have any extension.

Solution Journalism is characterized by making the solution the narrative axis and investigating the details of implementation. It presents evidence of results and effectiveness, not just intentions, and provides details of the limitations.

Impact of Solutions Journalism

By focusing on aspects that “work”, solution-oriented stories can redefine problems in ways that spark new currents of thought and good practice, both among legislators and among professionals and community members. For example, it can lead to delegitimizing excuses for not acting: if something is shown to work in one place, excuses for not acting for fear of failure in another part of the world are eliminated.

In this sense, Solutions Journalism Network has a database of research counted from the perspective of Solution Journalism. And as a current example, Gross stressed the importance of detecting responses that governments and organizations around the world are giving to the coronavirus problem. SJN has already published more than 25 investigations on the subject (see here).

In addition, it invited the participants to disseminate this information, and some volunteered as translators of the notes from English to Spanish. It is a way of contributing from WINN, to the change of culture in investigative journalism.