Solutions journalism

15. Blast and network effect /

Several pro-SoJo professional networks exist for finding money, support, allies, and broadcast relay stations.

Aché Attimer Youm launched the StopBlaBla platform to promote SoJo in Africa. His favourite proverb, “alone we go faster, together we go further”, illustrates the importance of networks to this new journalistic genre.

You need to break out of your cocoon and join networks to train, find support, allies, mentors, news relays, take part in cross-border surveys, and access sources of funding. Luckily, there is more than one and they are quite complementary.

SJN: the global network

18 000 trained journalists, a tracker with more than 10 000 articles, webinars, online courses… Originally American, but now on every continent, the Solution Journalism Network (SJN) is the largest solutions journalism organisation in the world.

It’s credo: to be professional. Hyper-professional. For Nina Fasciaux, its representative in Europe, the bar has to be set very high: “We bring a very rigorous journalistic methodology to ensure that when it comes to solutions, we have the same rigour and high journalistic standards as are used to cover problems”.

The SJN has developed a method we have referred to many times in previous episodes. It is also a very efficient network. Journalists who have taken the online courses can, for example, take part in editorial meetings to exchange views on their topics with colleagues (and SJN mentors). A specific programme, the LEDE Fellowship , selects media entrepreneurs with a SoJo project, supports and puts them in contact with each other to create a self-help community, exchange good practices and mutually amplify the blast effect of productions. Incidentally, LEDE Fellowships provide up to $3 500 in financial support.

Other scholarships have been launched by the SJN with larger budgets. $17 500 for reports on a health theme, for example. Although this programme was limited to American residents.

Finally, the association has also set up the Talent Network, a network connecting freelancers to editorial staff who are SoJo enthusiasts.

A comparable SJN-supported site exists for Africa and the Middle East:  created by Dina Aboughazala, an Egyptian journalist based in Turkey.

Reporters d’Espoirs: the French pioneer

Pioneering JoSo in France, the association’s main objective is to “promote news in the media that brings solutions”. Every year, the Reporters d’Espoirs prizes are awarded to the best reports, series and columns in the French media. And the association is organising “La France des Solutions”. A large gathering that brings together hundreds of people involved in SoJo. Under the leadership of its new president, journalist Christophe Agnus, it has become an exceptional day of media partner mobilisation with a live evening on France Info TV and multiple publications. At the initiative of Libé des Solutions, the association has now convinced many media to switch to SoJo at least once a year.

Finally, the NGO offers training courses, lists articles in French and plans to create a network of French-speaking journalists.

Sparknews: a global ambition

The French equivalent of a global solution is Impact Journalism Day, an initiative where 60 editorial offices on all continents publish a solutions-oriented article on the same day. An initiative of Sparknews, a company that identifies SDG initiatives, disseminates partner media content (mainly mainstream) and supports businesses.

StopBlaBla: an African ambition

Like the other networks, Ache Attimer Youm’s African project (see episode 12) is to train journalists in SoJo, promote its practice and relay articles. But StopBlaBla also goes further with its “Tour d’Afrique des Solutions”, a thematic operation that facilitates true comparative journalism: “Together, we define a problem common to our countries and each is required to provide a response supported by their respective citizens. The aim is to inspire each other. And eventually build up a media library, a sort of solutions data bank in Africa”. The first season was devoted to flood solutions in Burkina Faso, DRC and Chad.

Information Pour le Monde Suivant: the emerging network

StopBlaBla is part of the media that wants to provide useful news items of collective interest. This new concept is supported by the group “Information Pour le Monde Suivant” (IMS). Created by journalist Patrick Busquet, this association’s objective, like the other organisations mentioned here, is to promote the principles of solution journalism (even if the term is not used), but it also distinguishes itself by insisting on several points:

  • IMS underlines the importance of practical information, “explanations of methods” which must become “operative keys”. This service dimension, often elicited, is rarely valued by the other networks.
  • IMS wants to create a “signposting system” to set guidelines for relevant information.
  • IMS encourages programme broadcasters to implement impact measures.

Finally, and this is the most original aspect, “We teach journalists as well as communication managers, marketing directors and citizens to produce useful information of collective interest themselves,” explains Patrick Busquet. In other words, it’s SoJo within everyone’s reach, not just journalists: a bit like the fact checkers who democratise their verification tools so that everyone can exercise their civic vigilance. IMS also aims to become a citizen’s movement.

This is probably one of the possible futures for JoSo: solution journalism is not just journalism. And the issues at stakes, presented in these 15 episodes, deserve to be propagated, popularised and democratised to as many people as possible…

Three books to think about

Three books have recently been published on solutions journalism. This series owes them a lot. Complementary books that you should read and annotate if you want to practice SoJo.

  • Le Journalisme de Solutions by Pauline Amiel, Presses Universitaires de Grenoble. 16 euros. A comprehensive overview of the subject by a researcher and journalism teacher. For everything you want to know about the history, different types of solutions journalism, limits of certain practices and basic rules of SoJo.
  • Imaginer le Monde Demain by Gilles Vanderpooten, postscript by Eric Fottorino, Acte Sud. 19.50 euros. Written by the managing director of Reporters d’Espoir, this book gives a good overview of SoJo in France with many inspiring testimonies.

Nos Paroles Façonnent le Réel by Patrick Busquet, postscript by Didier Pourquery, L’échappée Belle Editions. 16 euros. The journey and vision of the founder of Informations Pour le Monde Suivant. With the method for practising “useful and constructive journalism”.


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