The print run of 'You Are What You Read: Why changing your media diet can change the world', a book about solutions journalism by Jodie Jackson, partner and researcher at the Constructive Journalism Project, has been entirely crowdfunded in 16 days, way before the campaign's deadline on 20 April.
Jackson holds a master degree in positive psychology, having researched how journalists who write constructive stories and audiences who interact with solutions journalism feel about their news diet.
"About seven years ago, I got to the point where I couldn’t bear to hear another news story. I would switch off, in almost a state of panic because of the dread that I would feel when I knew it was coming," Jackson said in an email to Journalism.co.uk.
"But I also asked what would it take to keep me informed in a way that engaged me? That’s when I came across the concept of constructive journalism. You see, instead of choosing ignorance, I wanted to learn more about the world beyond the media’s representation of it."
Constructive journalism, also referred to as solutions journalism, is a reporting and storytelling style that looks beyond the problem to also portray stories of resourcefulness, community spirit, entrepreneurial drive, and responses to crises.
Far from being only about positive news stories, constructive journalism aims to present the full picture of a situation without packaging stories to fit the 'if it bleeds it leads' approach.
Constructive reporting has been adopted and championed by organisations of all sizes from the Guardian, with its recently launched project The Upside, to De Correspondent, the BBC, and the Solutions Journalism Network, which collaborated with 80 newsrooms on projects and trained over 10,000 journalists.
Jackson's book, currently available for pre-order, explains how constructive journalism makes readers feel more empowered, combining research from psychology, sociology and journalism with real-life examples, and making the case for solutions-focused storytelling.
The crowdfunding campaign reached its target of £11,659 on 28 March, having received 45 per cent of the funds in the first 24 hours after launch. It is currently 111 per cent funded at the time of writing.
"This is not a call to be naïve and ignore the negative. Rather, it asks from us to not ignore the positive", Jackson said in a press release at the launch of the campaign. "For every problem, there is someone, somewhere, trying to do something about it. Or at least thinking about what we should be doing about it."
Research published in 2016 by the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, previously known as The Engaging News Project, showed that readers of solutions news stories spent more time on the article page compared to those who read traditional versions of the articles included in the study.
"We must abandon the previous rhetoric of solutions versus problems and acknowledge the complex and interdependent relationship between them," Jackson added in an email to Journalism.co.uk.
"Problem-focused journalism and solution-focused journalism do not need to be pitted against each other to decide which one is most important, but instead recognise both in their own right as serving an important informative function in the press."
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