Our Impact in 2016

Newsrooms Practice Change


In its first four years, SJN has focused on intensive newsroom engagements to demonstrate proof of concept for solutions journalism. We have built a portfolio of highly visible and credible news organizations whose strong solutions-oriented reporting projects serve as “beacons,” catalyzing imitation and replication by other journalists. These engagements last six months or longer and typically involve substantial financial support from SJN.

Community Vitality: In 2016, SJN engaged six newsrooms in projects focused on community vitality, all featuring intensive audience and community engagement components. For example, The Minneapolis Star Tribune produced groundbreaking reporting on responses to the threat of radicalization and ISIS recruitment of young Somalis in the Twin Cities. The paper created a full-time position for a Somali-speaking reporter, hosted a conversation with 25 Somali community leaders and used Listening Post, a phone-based engagement tool, to surface neighborhood-level insights and build trust with Somali residents. Additionally, the Star Tribune translated stories into Somali and established a content exchange partnership with Mshale, the local Somali newspaper, to further the reach of its solutions content.

Responses to Violence: Ten newsrooms partnered with SJN to produce solutions series on different aspects of violence. Many of these projects featured town hall meetings or other audience engagement components, including an interactive database. Newspapers (including the Cleveland Plain Dealer), a TV Network (Univision), and a public radio station (WNYC) tackled solutions stories on violence against immigrants, gun violence in urban settings, and domestic violence. The Detroit Free Press delivered an ambitious multimedia series on solutions to the impact of violence on Detroit’s children. This series featured robust audience engagement in the form of surveys, crowdsourcing, and a town hall of policy makers and other stakeholders.


Philadelphia Reentry Reporting Collaborative: The Philadelphia Reentry Reporting Collaborative, which launched in November, is a consortium of 16 Philadelphia news outlets and two universities reporting on responses to the challenge of ex-prisoner reentry into society. The impact of this work is already emerging: The project website has become a “hush harbor,” where people can come to tell their own reentry stories. And reentry service providers have started reaching out to see how we can work together.

Mountain West Collaboration: We also launched, “Small Towns, Big Change,” a network of seven small newsrooms in New Mexico and Colorado that committed to jointly exploring responses to the challenges facing rural communities. The six-month initiative yielded 50 stories, creating a persistent knowledge asset for communities looking for new ways to tackle old problems. It also introduced the solutions approach to smaller news organizations, a critical constituency for SJN.


Education Lab Continues: SJN’s partnership with The Seattle Times on “Education Lab,” an intensive investigation of responses to public education in Washington state, entered its fourth year – three years longer than we had originally anticipated. “Education Lab” has become a leading destination for daily solutions-oriented news and conversation about education in the Seattle area; its reporting and engagement activities have produced identifiable impact, leading to productive discussion of potential solutions and changed policy. It also has emerged as a model for other journalists, attracting attention, plaudits, and even envy from education reporters and editors across the nation – and providing a crucial base of evidence that has helped to advance the practice of solutions journalism in other newsrooms.


10 news organizations produced solutions journalism focused on violence prevention

7 Mountain West newsrooms produced “Small Towns, Big Change,” a solutions-focused regional collaboration


news outlets joined our Philadelphia Reentry Reporting Collaborative, covering recidivism and prisoner re-entry through a solutions lens

The Seattle Times’ award-winning “Education Lab,” now in its fourth year, reported story pageviews 102% higher and social shares 230% higher than regular education coverage

We’ve partnered with 78 newsrooms to produce solutions journalism stories and series


As solutions journalism gains popularity, we will be able to move newsrooms to higher levels of engagement faster, and with less investment of SJN resources

Where We’reHeaded in 2017

Beginning in 2017, we will shift from an emphasis on relatively few funded projects to building a significantly larger universe of newsroom relationships that we support and advance in a variety of ways, at varying intensity, depending on the need and the opportunity. We are also launching initiatives that will introduce solutions journalism outside the U.S. — starting in Europe and Africa — building awareness and excitement for the approach in leveraged ways that create a foundation for possible future expansion