The World Press Photo Foundation (WPPF) has launched a first-of-its-kind programme to promote a solutions approach in visual journalism and visual storytelling.
This year, the non-profit organisation has introduced the Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative, in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) and the Message In A Photo Foundation.
The scheme will see a small number of applicants receive approximately $5,000 to pursue a visual project with a solutions approach.
Solutions journalism is commonly associated with text reporting and photojournalism is often forgotten about, said David Campbell, director of programs and outreach, WPPF.
“If you can capture all the problems with a photo, why can’t you capture the solutions?" he asked.
“How you capture any visual is a question. It’s no more a difficult a question with a solutions approach, it’s simply recognising that what you are trying to do is capture a frame to the story.”
Applicants for the scheme will also receive ongoing support as they adopt and implement the ideas of solutions journalism in their visual storytelling. Good solutions reporting is more than a positive piece - it can be critical, rigorous and point out the limitations, even with a camera lens.
Applicants may also get their work published on a case-by-case, contractual basis by media partners. The first partner to sign up is the New York Times with its solutions-focused column ‘Fixes’, led by David Bornstein, co-founder of SJN.
Solutions journalism is seen as a response to the dominance of negative news reporting and photojournalism is no stranger to this phenomenon.
“For 65 years, we have run an annual photo contest and what is often selected as the best, particularly for say, Photo of the Year, often deals only with the problem,” said Campbell.
“We do know that audiences go to exhibitions and they’re are impacted by what they see but are also aware it seems negative.
“That’s why a solutions perspective is attractive to us. Not because it’s the opposite of a problem but because it’s about capturing the agency of an image in responding to problems.”
But while negativity overload has been linked to news avoidance, Campbell was less sold on that idea that negative imagery can cause audiences to switch off instantly.
“It’s not a psychological syndrome, we consciously decide to avert our eyes therefore finding different ways to tell that story will avoid people making that decision.”
Interested? Applicants have until 6 September 2019 to send their applications in.
Get to grips with writing and reporting solutions at Newsrewired on 27 November at Reuters, London. Head to newsrewired.com for the full agenda and tickets
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