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Frequently Asked Questions

HOW DO YOU FIND THESE STORIES?

We get stories through three routes: (1) stories that SJN knows about because they're being produced by our newsroom partners, (2) stories that individuals, particularly members of our Hub, submit to the Story Tracker for our review, and (3) stories that staff & others stumble upon. (We're currently thinking through the last route, trying to develop a system for searching for and harvesting solutions journalism from the news at large.)

HOW DO YOU VET STORY SUBMISSIONS?

First of all, it has to be solutions journalism. Stories are only selected for inclusion in the Story Tracker if they meet all the requirements for solutions journalism. Does the story:

HOW DO YOU TAG STORIES?

We add stories one-by-one, taking time to critically read/watch/listen to the narrative in order to tag the story not only for the basic info like the author, date, news outlet, but also to (1) craft a short searchable description of the story, (2) geocode each story based on the location of the reported-on response, (3) tag relevant issue areas/subjects for each story, using the Foundation Center's taxonomy, and (4) tag each story by Success Factors, our own unique taxonomy that off ers a nuanced look at the ingredients of success for a particular solution.

WHERE DID YOUR ISSUE AREAS TAXONOMY COME FROM?

Our issue area taxonomy was adapted from the PCS Taxonomy with definitions by the Foundation Center, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International License.

WHAT ARE SUCCESS FACTORS?

Success Factors are the tactics that are critical to a response's success or failure. What social change strategy did this solution use that made it work (or not work)?

WHERE DID YOUR SUCCESS FACTORS COME FROM?

We developed this in-house. It was a long process, headed by Tina Rosenberg, Taylor Nelson, and Matthew Zipf, which involved reading hundreds of stories to see what tactics were critical to making a response work. Much solutions journalism tells the story of a response that succeeded where others had failed, and seeks to identify how — what did this response do diff erently? We tried to identify, name and classify all these different tactics.

WHY ARE SUCCESS FACTORS IMPORTANT?

The same Success Factor can power all kinds of social initiatives. For example, "addressing underlying issues" or "building trust" can lead to successful responses in education, health, criminal justice and many other fields. People working in all these fields can benefit by learning how successful programs use these tactics. And using the focus of Success Factors to make these connections helps people to understand the systems that create social change.

What can cause a story to miss the mark for inclusion in the Solutions Story Tracker?

Stories are only added to the Solutions Story Tracker® if they meet all the requirements for solutions journalism.

“The basics.” We may not add a story to the Solutions Story Tracker for the following reasons:

Not Connected With A Media Organization

Submitted stories must have been published or broadcast by media entities whose primary purpose is to offer strong, critical, and independent reporting. Examples of stories that may be excluded for this reason are YouTube videos that are not connected to a news organization or journalist.

No Byline

The Solutions Story Tracker catalogs stories that identify the journalists and producers, so it’s clear who created the stories. We do accept stories from independent publications through international press agencies, but may or may not include a byline.

No Date

The Solutions Story Tracker is used for research. It is important that stories have dates for citations.

Solutions journalism focuses primarily on a response or responses to a problem. If a story misses this mark, we may not add it to the Solutions Story Tracker for the following reasons:

No Description of How the Response Works

This story mentions a response, but it doesn’t describe how the response worked in detail so that others might learn from it.

Problem Only

This story has little or no information about a response. It is primarily focused on a problem.

Afterthought

This problem-focused story includes a paragraph or sound bite hinting at initiatives working to combat the problem, but responses are not the main focus of this piece.

Not About Solving A Social Problem

This story is about interesting or positive things that are happening, but they don’t amount to a response to a social issue or problem.

Solutions journalism conveys insight, so that lessons of a response are relevant and accessible to others. If a story misses this mark, we may not add it to the Solutions Story Tracker for the following reasons:

Lacks Insight

This story lacks detail on the response to make it useful, valuable, and full of learning for the news consumer.

Produces Good Feelings, Without Insight

The story highlights acts of kindness and nice things happening, aiming to uplift the audience’s mood. Solutions journalism does more than just produce good feelings. This story needs a teachable lesson about how the response can be replicated in other contexts.

Solutions journalism provides evidence of a response’s success or failure or indications of progress linked to a response. If a story misses this mark, we may not add it to the Solutions Story Tracker for the following reasons:

Just A Plan / It's Too Early

This story is about a plan with little or no progress happening yet. At this stage, the response has been announced or launched, but there is no information yet about its impact or effectiveness.

Think Tank

The story proposes a potential solution and discusses primarily theoretical challenges and opportunities, but real-world insights are limited because the response has not been tested or tried yet.

Research Study Summary without Additional Reporting

This story primarily summarizes the findings of a research study. The story lacks practical applications or additional context and reporting by the journalist, but it does offer value in the world of solutions. While these research study stories are not solutions journalism, they are automatically flagged for potential future projects with us and are great supplemental materials for our staff to read.

Raising Awareness without Evidence

The reporting in this story is focused on raising awareness about a response, but doesn’t describe anything beyond its happening. As a result, insight and evidence of its impact are not present. While raising awareness is important, solutions journalism values evidence to show how a response is working or not working in that effort.

Solutions journalism discusses the limitations or shortcomings of the response or places the response in meaningful context. If a story misses this mark, we may not add it to the Solutions Story Tracker for the following reasons:

No Limitations

This story does not discuss the limitations or shortcomings of the response or places the response in meaningful context. As a result, the story of the response is incomplete and the insight is limited.

Solutions journalism has credible, objective reporting that is clear and understandable for people interested in scaling the response. If a story misses this mark, we may not add it to the Solutions Story Tracker for the following reasons:

Lacks a Cohesive Focus

This story’s narrative lacks enough focus on an approach to meet our four criteria of solutions journalism (response, evidence, insight, limitations), preventing the learning from being scalable to others. If more than one response is spotlighted in a story, the narrative needs to have a cohesive focus and still meet our four qualities so that valuable learning can happen.

Needs Additional Perspectives

This story relies too much on the journalist's personal experience to describe a response without addressing the shortcomings of the approach. Rigorous solutions journalism should inform the news consumer about the response as a priority.

Instant Activist

This story asks news consumers to support the response to a social issue (e.g. buttons embedded within the story encourage readers to 'Get involved,' 'Donate here,' 'Support this campaign here,' etc.). Solutions journalism is about providing information to news consumers, not telling them which responses they should support.

Not Independent Journalism

The journalist seems to be connected with the response profiled or offers the perspective of the organizers only. These stories often lack voices other than that of the journalist and the organizers of a response. They often read like thinly veiled PR. Actual PR and other promotional content also falls into this category.

A Personality Profile

This story is primarily about profiling, celebrating, or honoring an individual, rather than focusing on the response that the individual is leading or advancing.

Finally, there are a few other reasons why we may not add a story to the Solutions Story Tracker:

Broken Link

Oops! Please submit this story again with a working link.

It's A Blog

We generally do not accept blog posts because they often do not go through an established editorial infrastructure for fact-checking and rigorous reporting. When such a system is present, the story may be included in the Solutions Story Tracker.

Not Accessible for Us to Review

We were not able to review this story submission because it is behind a paywall. While stories in the Solutions Story Tracker can be behind paywalls, our team needs access to be able to review and tag the story. Please reach out to our Data Architect, Marie von Hafften (marie@solutionsjournalism.org) to discuss possible workarounds.

Series Description / Landing Page

This is a link to a series description or landing page. The Solutions Story Tracker does not catalog series as a whole. We vet, tag, and catalog stories individually. Please submit the individual solutions stories that are part of this series or project.

Spam / Not A Story

Our story reviewing team thought this was not a story.

Other

Our story reviewing team occasionally writes in custom comments for unusual issues, such as when they are reviewing a story that is a repost of a story already in the Solutions Story Tracker.

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Your information will be used to complete your application, and to subscribe you to occasional updates. We will only send you relevant information, which may be sent to you through any channel for which you provide contact information to us. We may use this information to target content we send you, but we will never sell or transfer your information to 3rd parties for commercial or advertising purposes. We may use your information to connect you to 3rd parties for the purpose of improving your membership and enriching your professional network. You can unsubscribe at any time from any content delivery channel, or from all of them, though unsubscribing may prevent you from participating in the opportunities provided by this program. View our full privacy policy here.

Our issue area taxonomy was adapted from the PCS Taxonomy with definitions by the Foundation Center, which is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International License.

Photos are licensed under Attribution Non Commercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license / Desaturated from original, and are credited to the following photographers:

Fondriest Environmental, David De Wit / Community Eye Health, Linda Steil / Herald Post, John Amis / UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences – OCCS, Andy B, Peter Garnhum, Thomas Hawk, 7ty9, Isriya Paireepairit, David Berger, UnLtd The Foundation For Social Entrepreneurs, Michael Dunne, Burak Kebapci, and Forrest Berkshire / U.S. Army Cadet Command public affairs

Photos are licensed under Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license, and are credited to the following photographers:

Ra'ed Qutena, 段 文慶, Fabio Campo, City Clock Magazine, Justin Norman, scarlatti2004, Gary Simmons, Kathryn McCallum, and Nearsoft Inc

Photos are licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication Creative Commons license / Desaturated from original, and are credited to the following photographers:

Burak Kebapci and SCY.

Photos are licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) and are credited to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Conference attendee listening to speaker, Jenifer Daniels / Colorstock getcolorstock.com.

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian via Getty Images

Photo Credit: Sonia Narang