Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
The field of solutions-based journalism has been on the rise over the past decades, with an increasing number of social entrepreneurs working to shift the media sector from an industry that showcases problems and failures in society to one that investigates and examines solutions. However, the nascent field still faces several barriers to scale.
First, solutions-based news often remains sporadic and opportunistic. Citizens are demanding more positive and inspiring news; however, mainstream press still considers “stories that sell” to be those that focus on problems and failures in society, such as war, violence, natural destruction and corruption. While alternative media outlets increasingly cover solutions, these magazines, websites and blogs remain outside of mainstream media and are lacking mass readership.
There is an emergence of models that focus on building the know-how and comptencies of journalists so they can effectively seek out and write high-quality investigative solutions-based journalism. The strategy of training and empowering individual journalists, one that is being led in the USA by David Bornstein, founder of Solutions Journalism Network, is a critical component in the shift toward a press industry that values solutions. However, it is not the complete solution. Another component is a more top-down approach that focuses on getting the buy-in and support from the press industry’s leadership and management, and doing this at an internatonal scale.
While it is increasingly evident that consumers and journalists are demanding a new type of news coverage, and that solutions-based stories do sell, no one has tested an international model. Many effective solutions-based journalism models are intervening at a national level; no global approach exists to unite media players and transcend geographies, languages and cultures. Coordinating such an effort at an international scale which would require convincing newspapers to see beyond their local markets and stakeholders to adopt a more global perspective. Looking at challenges to solutions-based journalism from an international lens could open up exciting and potentially system-changing solutions.
Finally, there is a challenge related to the budget and staff cuts occurring across the industry. In the midst of these cuts, solutions-based news stories are the first stories to go since their production can be considered timely and costly. Journalists do not always know where to find high-quality solutions, and once they find them, they may not know how to write about them. There is an opportunity to demonstrate a business model for solutions-based journalism that makes it easy and cost-efficient for the press industry.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Building on a shift in the press sector, Christian is developing the capacity of mainstream media to seek out and include solutions-based content in newspapers, eventually television and radio stations, at international scale. He is federating the first global community of editors-in-chief who commit to incorporate solutions-based stories into their newspapers through testing and championing models of content sharing. This pioneering community, made up of 40 editors-in-chief representing 40 countries, is tearing down traditional exclusivity boundaries within the media sector while reducing production costs for a newspaper industry faced with the challenge of identifying new business models in order to survive.
Christian has identified the right package of incentives and tools to motivate support and participation from press leadership, and create behavior change. He is demonstrating a sustainable revenue model for solutions-based journalism by reducing transaction costs related to writing about solutions in the news. First, he coordinates the sharing of solutions-based stories among his international network of editors-in-chief; several newspapers can thus leverage the same news stories simultaneously. He also provides a trusted online, open source platform that gives journalists access to easily-digestible videos representing a constant stream of story ideas. This in turn, reduces the time and cost for newspapers to identify and write about solutions. Finally, Christian is working on convincing advertising agencies to promote their products and services alongside solutions-based news, thus providing companies with a “socially good” image while developing a revenue stream that enables newspapers to focus on solutions.
By working top-down with the decision-makers of the mainstream newsmedia industry and uniting them in a global peer-to-peer network, Christian envisions a future where solutions-based journalism is embedded in the strategy of newspaper agencies. In this foreseeable future, consumers are increasingly demanding accessible solutions to inspire and foster their changemaking capabilities and the press sector is equipped with the necessary incentives and tools to respond to this demand.