In Fixing U.S. Health Problems, No Solution Is an Island

Solutions Journalism Network

Created by Leslie Cory, Solutions Specialist

Shining a spotlight on problems makes it difficult to see solutions already in motion and responses waiting to be tested. These stories help us turn on the house lights, so to speak, and take a deep all-around look at what's working, who's making it work, and who else could learn from the lessons that have emerged. 

In addition to the investigation into a distinct topic covered by each story, the collective approaches offered here provide a couple of significant takeaways on how to report on societal problems:

Encouraging Resilience: Teenagers in Kearns, Utah, reported that they were using drugs and alcohol at a higher rate than their peers from surrounding regions. Rather than focus on assigning blame, The Salt Lake Tribune reported on how the county took the original mission of a program developed by the University of Washington – to bolster healthy relationships between parents and students – and adapted it to decrease adolescent substance abuse. Several states away, in Oakland, California, city officials have long faced a housing crisis. In response, Law at the Margins covered how those who were experiencing homelessness were working with a local activist group to build self-governed communities where "homeless communities can help themselves." And in Oregon, organizations like the Gary Leif Navigation Center are providing housing services and support to those in need., while Don’t Evict PDX (DEPDX) works with tenants to prevent evictions through education and helping tenants to organize and advocate for themselves.

Cultivating Collaboration & Evaluating Impact: To report on Chicago’s need to replace lead pipes that carry drinking water, WBEZ looked for lessons in two other cities that had successfully addressed this problem. Similarly, in Alabama, (Alabama Media Group) reported on a local effort to establish a Maternal Mortality Review Committee – a unit that was already well-established in other states across the nation.