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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.

How Solutions Journalism might reveal the next step


“Back off, man, I’m a scientist.” Dr. Peter Venkman

At the risk of hyperbole, Solutions Journalism is something my students have been looking for, at least for the five years that I’ve been advising.  Berkeley has a history of activism, and that’s just as true in our newsroom, for better and worse.  On the one hand, Berkeley High School journalists really want to tackle big issues and use journalism as a tool to highlight injustice and push society towards equity and fairness.  On the other, being students, they tend to write with their hearts on their sleeves, with more emphasis on bombast than on real world efforts to make the improvements they want to see.

In this blog post, I’m going to look at an attempt by my newsroom to address a social problem, and give some examples on how our version might better reflect the principles of Solutions Journalism.

One of the most pressing problems faced by the Berkeley community is homelessness.  Perhaps second only to the related issue of housing cost, homelessness is among the most talked about issue facing our community.  The Berkeley High Jacket wanted to address this issue in a productive way and ran a series of homeless profiles that we published both in print and on our website.  You can read the result here.

Clearly, this is not Solutions Journalism (it isn’t intended to be).  The students were hoping to feature stories of Berkeley folks that almost always get overlooked.  I’d like for us to figure out some next steps, and Solutions Journalism provides a model for that kind of deeper look at the underlying problems of homelessness.

The Solutions Journalism Network offers some compelling examples.  While not specific to Berkeley, a few articles have featured the homelessness problem in San Francisco.  Among them are Kevin Fagan’s SF Chronicle article from 2016 and Lauren Farrar’s 2015 article for KQED.  To be clear, the purpose of these articles is different than what we were hoping to accomplish with our profiles, but they serve as an example of what that next step might look like: they address a specific effort to solve various parts of the homelessness problem in San Francisco, they provide evidence on what that effort has accomplished, they give insight that readers might be able to adapt to their own communities, and they offer challenges and barriers that still remain.

About the closest we’ve come to doing something like Solutions Journalism (and, again, the staff of the Jacket weren’t consciously trying to do Solutions Journalism) is this article about local-to-Berkeley organizations that work on the issue.  What keeps this from being Solutions Journalism in the sense that Sara Catania et al. presented is that this article doesn’t go into enough depth regarding evidence of what these organizations have accomplished, or what barriers exist against their efforts.

According to Rachel Dissell and Jan Leach, “Solutions Journalism fulfills the elements of hope that teens have” and this really resonates with my experience with Berkeley High journalists.  I also appreciated the emphasis that this isn’t really “introductory” journalism but something to be aimed for as writers and editorial staff take the next steps to provide a service to our readership.




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  1. Good blog. Loved how you looked back at what your kids had done that related to the topic and what they could still do. It will be fun to follow how the develop their new ideas in the upcoming year!

    • Thanks!

  2. Peter, when someone asks if you’re a god, you say YES!

    Good stuff here!