Solutions journalism

11. Photo SoJo /

From the most watched newscast in France to the craziest TikTok accounts in the American Midwest, SoJo is gradually infiltrating all screens…

As in radio, the television landscape is dominated by problem journalism (and news…). As in radio, there are few programmes devoted to SoJo. The only specific programme in France, “On a la solution” on France 3, is pretty exemplary, but it broadcasts late, erratically, and is not always accessible on the web. On the other hand, as in radio, many programmes on the environment, citizenship and daily life do get on air, even if they are often reports or interviews on initiatives rather than JoSo sensu stricto.

Fortunately, there are pertinent programmes, on both dominant channels… and innovative formats on new screens.

TF1, the solutions channel?

“You can’t make news programmes lasting sometimes 45 minutes and give the impression that it’s a punishment, that only serious things are happening”. Cyril Auffret said that. So, the editor-in-chief of the weekend news on TF1, the first and oldest TV channel in France, programmes a veritable quota of SoJo reports in the editions he is responsible for. From pharmacists recycling their unsold medicines to recipes from a city revitalising its economy to horses replacing garbage trucks, “La France des Solutions” takes a look at a problem, dissects the answer and presents the proof of success. And all in under two minutes.

The television writing of these reports always involves “characters who have this energy to want to transform society” and who embody the solution.

In addition to these Saturday and Sunday broadcasts, the channel also programmes SoJo in lunchtime news programmes with “SOS Villages”, a programme that enables businesses to be reopened in small towns. Finally, with “Une Semaine pour l’Emploi”, TF1 goes so far as to find work for those who don’t have any. In short, you can be a private channel and carry out a public service mission, you can be a mainstream media and get off the beaten track.

“On a la solution!”, the SoJo ecology magazine

“On a la Solution!” is a 52-minute programme focused on the environment. But the magazine does not cover major policies promoting energy transition or global strategies to reduce greenhouse gases. “On a la Solution! ” explores the problems, or rather people’s concrete needs.

For example, would you like to switch to an electric car but don’t have the means? In a magazine devoted to new forms of mobility, the “On a la Solution!” team produced a report on a start-up in the city of Grenoble that transforms classic (and polluting) cars into electric vehicles by changing the engine. For a few thousand euros, the investment for this “electric kit” pays back in a few years. After the report, comes quite a frank and thorough interview with the founder about the (substantial!) price, the limits of electricity (no more than 200 km of autonomy), the pollution generated by the battery manufacture…

The solution is an innovation and its operating instructions are certainly not reproducible by your average do-it-yourselfer. But other reports in this programme on other inventions are more accessible. For instance, the electric wheel that any individual can put on their bicycle, or the car-sharing system in rural areas that works thanks to the a village’s inhabitant solidarity and is spreading to neighbouring communes.

The show, enriched by motion design, is staged with Louise Ekland, a smiling energetic presenter (which doesn’t stop her from asking pointed questions). She punctuates her interventions with mini-sketches, a quiz (to become aware of the extent of the problems) or short SoJo stories around the theme.

In short, a complete concept. And inspiring.

Towards series and communities

Despite a Facebook group, the presence of “On a la solution!” on the web is quite discreet. The link between an audience community and the media is a formidable tool for reinforcing, developing and perpetuating a SoJo concept. The experience of Nice Matin (see episode 9) is, in this respect, exemplary.

This link is the foundation of Sophie Roland’s project. With the support of the SJN, this SoJo-convert investigative journalist is working on a documentary series where the solution becomes the heart of the narrative. “The idea is to serialise each month to show an experience in action with recurring characters”. The challenge is for each viewer to become attached to the protagonists and to be able to draw on their experience. “I am obsessed with behavioural changes,” explains Sophie Roland, who plans to meet her community in real life beyond social networks “to hold a discussion in multi-purpose rooms”.

As a mass (and free) media, TV can also trigger a great slipstream effect that goes beyond astonishment or passive indignation in front of the screen…

From Brut to TikTok

Video also circulates on social networks. And it is even the main means of diffusion for a media like Brut. This video medium has made SoJo one of its flagship programmes.

  • “A world of solutions” brings together hundreds of videos, from role models to tutorials. It’s effective as always with With hard-hitting storytelling and impressive scores: some videos exceed 10 million views. This section of Brut has in fact been so successful that the media decided to turn it into… a book: 100 Actions, Changer le Monde.
  • You can find SoJo videos on all the networks but it’s worth taking a look at TikTok. The teenagers’ favourite network is full of finds from Generation Z “TikToktivists” who have fun distilling very practical and playful messages to save the planet. You can find them under the collective EcoTok.
  • Special mention goes to Philip Aiken, alias Philthefixer, an assumed LGBT redneck who attracts 50 000 followers by explaining how to stimulate biodiversity in his garden. It’s short, funny, effective and very SoJo!

Something to think about before filming

  • Have you got a story? Don’t forget to find images that recount the problem, not just the solution: polluted beach, desertified areas, urban riots… The archives are a mainstay of filmed SoJo.
  • Make use of the camera to make a tutorial.
  • Don’t forget Motion design to enhance the impact of your story.

A CFI project in partnership with France Médias Monde

Logos CFI et France Médias Monde