To deepen its commitment to solutions journalism, the Guardian has launched a new series aimed at reporting on the people and initiatives working to find answers to society's most pressing issues, from climate to healthcare and gender.
The Upside went live on 12 February, publishing a reader call-out that asked people to share how their community has helped resolve a local issue. Some 1,000 people have already been in touch with suggestions, said Guardian special projects editor Mark Rice-Oxley.
The initiative, which is partly supported through a grant from the Skoll Foundation, builds on a constructive journalism pilot project the Guardian began in the summer of 2016. Over the last 18 months, the organisation found that its solutions stories attracted, on average, 10 per cent more readers, and that almost one in 10 people tends to share positive news on social media.
"News has become more and more dismal and that's probably just because there's more and more of it, so editors and reporters tend to chase stories that have serious implications and meaning for the world, which tends to be news that is quite negative," Rice-Oxley told Journalism.co.uk.
"We felt that just doing that kind of work doesn't really give a fair impression of what the world is really like, and it also discourages readers because it makes it seem like everything is terrible and nothing can be done."
The Upside will focus on finding innovative but replicable approaches around the world, he added, so that an interesting project or idea can be picked up by councils, organisations or entrepreneurs who can try and put it into practice in their local area.
The goal is for the project to be a newsroom-wide effort, with stories contributed by a small dedicated team, but also by Guardian correspondents and the news desk.
The reporting will tackle five areas: the environment, science and technology, public health, community leadership and gender, and it will include written features as well as other interactive and multimedia formats.
"Rather than having 10 journalists thinking about [solutions reporting] 100 per cent of the time, I want all our journalists to be thinking about this 5 per cent of the time, so that it becomes part of the global fabric of Guardian reporting.
"So if there's a disaster or a big breaking news story happening, and we've written 50 pieces about how terrible it is, maybe the next one could be about someone in that space who's got some answers."
Apart from sharing the stories through a dedicated section on the website and through social media, the Guardian has also developed a weekly newsletter for The Upside, which will include the organisation's own reporting and highlight solutions reporting from other publications.
Free daily newsletter
- 19 essential newsletters every journalist should read
- Tip: Help your readers see a solution in a negative news story
- What the Solutions Journalism Network learned talking to ~100 newsrooms about SoJo
- Tip: A freelancer's guide to solutions journalism
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