Helping Solutions Journalism Deliver on Its Promise
By Thaddeus Mast
March 23, 2023
The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) is a nonprofit leading a global shift in journalism and focused on what the news misses most often: how people are trying to solve problems and what we can learn from their successes or failures.
Adjunct faculty member Cheryl Dahle, a former journalist, and students in her Co-Design and Social Interventions Workshop spent a semester working with SJN to co-design solutions that would help journalists support and engage with communities.
Solutions Journalism Network Co-Design Workshop
Students embraced co-design—in which designers approach a situation as facilitators and interveners, bringing people together who might have less power in a system—to suggest a new framework that the Solutions Journalism Network can use to work with newsroom leaders, reporters, and community members.
Core Recommendation: Readers and Revenue
The students’ core recommendation was for media organizations to deepen their engagement with readers and communities. In doing so, the organizations will discover how solutions journalism can both lead to new offerings that benefit communities as well as provide new revenue streams.
ID students challenged SJN's theory of change and asked how media organizations could deepen reader engagements. Doing so could lead to both new offerings that benefit communities as well as new revenue streams.
The co-design workshop included discussion and hands-on physical prototyping, including the use of Legos.
To explore how co-design might enable that recommendation, the students organized a workshop hosted at ID with a few dozen local social advocacy and business leaders from organizations including Public Narrative, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Argonne National Laboratory. The goal: discover community members’ ideal vision of journalism and how those ideals might be incorporated into a network of newsrooms and reporters practicing solutions journalism. This meant intimate, direct discussions and hands-on physical prototyping, including, for example, the use of physical objects like Legos to showcase new ideas in a different light.
Toward Solutions-Focused Media Around the Globe
Now that the Solutions Journalism Network is moving towards larger systems change work , the strategy suggestions made by ID students can be considered and implemented to further the organization’s goals.
Sharing a Collaborative Mindset
Working with the Solutions Journalism Network and other outside partners is a cornerstone of ID philosophy, to the benefit of both students and the community.
Dahle hopes to continue partnering with Solutions Journalism Network and other nonprofits, as the co-design ideas and methods brought forward by ID students push organizations to create a holistic, cooperative mindset.
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