The Future of Cities first case study: Melissa Mean, right, with Toni and her three-year-old daughter

Credit: Courtesy of The Bristol Cable

UK co-operative news organisation The Bristol Cable has started a solutions journalism project reporting on the problems that cities face in housing, transport and resourcing.

The Future of Cities project is a year-long effort, funded by a €130,000 grant from the European Journalism Centre to promote solutions journalism.

The Cable will publish one story a month for the next year, broken up into thirds: the first four months will be dedicated to housing issues, then will come transport and travel, and finally energy, food and water.

Its first piece looks at co-designed housing projects, where developers work with the occupiers of council properties, to regenerate estates and alleviate fears of displacing communities.

These are often small neighbourhood projects but this article examines one successful local case study with a view to applying it on a larger scale. It explains this neatly in the pull-out section.

Screenshot via The Bristol Cable

"We are researching solutions as we go," says Eliz Mizon, a freelance writer for the news organisation ever since its launch in 2014 and now communications lead.

"The picture we want to paint is one of what Bristol could look like if it was running like a city fit for the future - sustainable and equitable."

READ MORE: The role and the risks of solutions journalism for climate reporting

Being a co-operative news organisation with some 2,700 members has some advantages. Its membership system, Beabee, was designed by staffer Will Franklin for small newsrooms to manage and monetise their audience.

The team is using Beabee to send out secure surveys to members, asking them what problems need solving and what housing solutions they are aware of within, or beyond, Bristol.

Often, members have expertise worth tapping into. For instance, Melissa Mean, who features in the article as the head of We Can Make, a community-led scheme, is a Bristol Cable member. Expert members can also provide qualified insight on the limitations or viability of a proposed solution on a broader scale, as is the objective of solutions journalism.

Finally, The Cable will share lessons from the project in the form of a 'reporting recipe', which is constantly updated. This will show its methods, impact and tips for other newsrooms, and is in line with The Cable's mission to commit to organisational transparency.

Mizon is promoting this project as solutions journalism in all communications to members via newsletters and social media. There will also be embedded audio versions of each article so to make them more accessible.

Solutions journalism at its core seeks to give readers agency and feel empowered to make a change. That is why these articles also include a useful "how can I take action?" section at the end.

Screenshot via The Bristol Cable

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