Our Impact in 2017

Newsrooms Practice Change


By year-end, solutions journalism had achieved broad institutional and editorial support within 140 news organizations. Simply put, it’s easier for us to get in newsrooms’ doors—and many more editors and news directors are coming to us. The resulting newsroom projects included projects on education, health, prisoner reentry, rural sustainability, and other issues, with many featuring strong audience and community engagement components. Some highlights:

Education: In addition to “Education Lab,” our ongoing, five-year-long partnership with The Seattle Times, we have pursued multiple projects. SJN partnered with the Connecticut Mirror to produce a series on bilingual education programs and student achievement. KCPT, the public TV station in Kansas City, completed a sojo series on charter vs public education for a 30-minute TV special and many print stories that were also translated into Spanish for their site and a local Hispanic newspaper. Alabama Media Group, in partnership with Spaceship Media, produced a dialogue with over 100 teachers to inform its reporting on school re-segregation. The Ohio Valley ReSource, a collaborative of seven public radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio, is focusing on reimagining education in the post-coal economy—bringing together reporters from its education, health, and workplace beats to provide a synthetic systems view of the issue.

Prisoner reentry: The Philadelphia Solutions Reporting Collaborative, conceived by SJN in 2016, was a groundbreaking effort by 15 diverse news outlets in Philadelphia, as well as Temple University and Muhlenberg College, to report on responses to the challenge of prisoner reentry in that city. In all, the Collaborative published or broadcast over 200 stories on reentry and organized over a dozen audience engagement activities, including a hackathon and a grand finale event that was attended by the mayor and other city dignitaries. The Reentry Project’s reporting brought about concrete government action, such as the extension of a visitation program and the use of special equipment for inmates with hearing disabilities. It also furthered community-wide awareness of the plight of returning citizens. Perhaps most gratifying, the newsroom partners agreed to spin out the collaborative from SJN into its own independent entity — and received funding from the Lenfest Institute to pursue solutions reporting on other issues.

Rural sustainability: In June, we launched “State of Change,” a nine-month-long collaboration of 13 New Mexico news organizations to explore economic resiliency of rural communities in the state. This represents an extension and enlargement of our “Small Towns, Big Change” project last year. We also launched “The Montana Gap,” a similar collaboration of 12 newsrooms in western Montana in October, looking at the growing divide between tech-fueled boomtowns and rural communities losing jobs and population. SJN is partnering in this effort with High Country News, a highly respected regional publication that provides project management; and Headwaters Economics, a regional economic research firm, that brings data training and research support.

Gentrification:  The Tennessean in Nashville completed an extensive series on property taxes that sparked intense discussion and interest in the community, at one point even trending competitively online against coverage of the Predators, the city’s beloved hockey team. This series was complemented by public forums and panels.

Health: The Atlantic and The Washington Monthly produced solutions-based projects that examined efforts across the United States to reduce health care costs, while maintaining or improving health care quality, for the 5% of patients whose care accounts for an estimated 50% of U.S. health spending.

Urban planning: In the aftermath of hurricane Harvey, The Houston Chronicle produced a sojo series on prudent urban planning and water management. The Chronicle team traveled to the Netherlands to gain insights and sponsored a public discussion highlighting its reporting.

Urban blight: WEWS Channel 5 in Cleveland is actively engaged in a sojo series on urban blight in that city — our first significant engagement with a commercial television station.


140 newsrooms with broad institutional and editorial support for solutions journalism

6 collaboratives, encompassing 57 print, digital, radio, and broadcast news outlets


of engaged newsrooms regularly produce solutions journalism.

Added our first broadcast partner newsroom


We completed our first comprehensive survey of newsroom leaders to assess if our approach produces institutional and attitudinal changes in the newsrooms we’ve worked with. Spoiler alert: It does. We spoke with representatives at 84 newsrooms in our network. Of those, 96% said that there is institutional support for solutions journalism. And 44% said that they were integrating solutions journalism into their newsroom coverage at a relatively high level. Impressively, 94% of respondents expressed support for the Solutions Journalism Network.

Where We’reHeaded in 2018

We will kick off our three-year Renewing Democracy initiative, focused on coverage of efforts by people and institutions to reinvigorate democracy in communities across the country. We hope to bring new newsroom partners into this project with a new competition-style approach.

We will expand our newsroom networks in New England and the South, with an emphasis on ethnic media and commercial broadcast partners.