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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

Activism journalism and solutions journalism

I have always been a very opinionated person, which is one of the things that I think drew me to my love of journalism.  I am also a people person and a writer, adding more to why I love journalism and what I believe it should be.

I had never heard of Solutions Journalism before today, and after listening to the speakers, this is something that I think all advisers need to do.  Sure, we must teach the basics with writing and interviewing, etc. But in the end, isn’t this the main goal?

Isn’t another name for Solutions Journalism simply “good journalism?”  Is this the opposite of what most media does today? Solutions Journalism forces one out of their comfort zone and into other communities. It is “rigorous reporting on evidence-based responses to social problems.

Most people agree that there are social problems, but many disagree on the ways to solve them.  This is where I think a lot of journalism fails today.

So, this somehow led me into the debate between journalism vs. activism.

With our polarized society we tend to gravitate towards media outlets that support our views on issues.  What if more journalists started to show all sides to an issue, showing the bigger picture?

Sara Catania said, “You don’t want to steer into advocacy.”  This got me thinking.  Are we supposed to be advocates?  If so, advocates of what?  I would like to think that we are simply advocates of truth. However, sometimes that leads us to only advocate for “our truth,” and not telling the whole story.

I think there is a time for journalism and activism to work together, but journalists need to admit when they are being advocates.  Opinions must be made clear.

Most times (unless an opinion piece), the writer should not have a slant in the reporting.  We shouldn’t be trying to influence debates, but influence conversations and informed discussions.

But isn’t just writing about an issue advocacy? Not necessarily. Consumers of media want to know what is going on. However, I think it is important to show all sides, and all perceived solutions to the issue/topic. We are not here to tell our readers/listeners which solution is the correct one, our duty is to show them as many options as possible. We don’t want everyone to agree. Our job is not a diplomatic one.

This will help make our stories better stories, not the same ones every year. We know there is a problem….what are some solutions?  Complicate the narrative. 

Once we stick to truth, society will be stronger. Journalists must be strong to not fall to emotions and sensationalism. That is disastrous and leads to truth being lost.

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