Credit: Image by Some rights reserved

Reading solutions-focused news stories prompts audiences to spend more time on the article page, found a survey released by the Engaging News Project this week.

Respondents who were shown solutions stories spent 25 per cent (30 seconds) longer on the article page than those who read a traditional news story. They also reported a higher level of optimism and greater self-efficacy.

"When they finish reading a solutions story they think to themselves 'hey, I can do something about this now'", said Alex Curry, research associate, Engaging News Project, University of Texas at Austin.

"In a way it's empowering to the readers, and I don't think it's a small thing to have someone read your story and leave feeling better."

The research, funded by the Solutions Journalism Network, included an experiment and two field tests in partnership with Desert News, surveying 834 readers who were shown articles about the struggles of the working poor.

This week's report is a follow up from a previous study in 2014, which found audience engagement advantages for a solutions journalism approach to news across the board.

But while time on page might be greater for articles exploring solutions, the new report also found that bounce and exit rates were also 15 per cent higher for these articles compared to the non-solutions version.

This means newsrooms need to decide which metrics are more important for measuring their success when thinking about adopting a solutions-focused approach to their reporting.

"Newsrooms will need to weigh some of the benefits with some of the things that we saw that maybe were not as glowing for solutions journalism," said Curry.

"As far as the bounce and exit rates go, we just don't know where they're leaving to.

"Yes they're leaving your site and that's not what a newsroom wants to hear. At the same time, if they're leaving the site to follow up on a story that you've written to go seek out more information about that, I don't think that's a bad thing."

Solutions journalism, also known as constructive journalism, has been gaining followers at a steady pace in the last few years.

BBC World Service adopted a solutions-based approach in its reporting for My Perfect Country, a six-part radio series.

And in The Netherlands, the School of Journalism at Windesheim University has introduced constructive journalism into its curriculum.

"[Journalists] are really helping to shape the narrative of how people view the world. And if you are not giving them that other half, you're giving them a dark picture of what is happening, which is not accurate," Samantha McCann, curator of the Solutions Journalism Network, told in February.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).