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By Shannon Sampson, Journalism major
SAN MARCOS — Solutions Journalism is a tool for journalists to change the way that audiences absorb news by incorporating solutions into stories.
Texas State University lecturer for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication Holly Wise has dedicated her work to Solutions Journalism and has even influenced her students to pursue this method themselves. Wise said that Solutions Journalism is like a “breath of fresh air” to what some associate with typical writing and reporting.
“There’s a lot of journalism that is not glamorous and is not fun,” Wise said. “Solutions Journalism can give a different perspective to how we tell that same story and it’s really refreshing because our audiences are often fatigued by “bad news,” but journalists are also fatigued in telling that same story over and over again.”
The mission of the Solutions Journalism organization is to spread their practice by incorporating the responses to social problems into typical news stories. This tool is meant to help rebalance news in a way that typical people are exposed to stories that not only help them with understanding today’s problems and challenges but potential ways to respond to the story.
According to Wise, it is not the story that makes the difference, but the impact the story makes on the community.
“My work and the platform that I have can make such a critical difference in a community and it doesn’t have to be working for the New York Times or the Washington Post or having an audience of hundreds of thousands,” Wise said. “It could just be working for this small town daily newspaper with a daily circulation of 3,000 in a town of 10,000 people.”
Wise said that Solutions Journalism is a tool essential for giving communities a more accurate portrayal of what is going on around them. Rather than just writing about the problem, journalists should also report on the audience’s response to the problem.
“We like to say that journalists are the watchdogs of society,” Wise said. “We expose wrongdoing and hold people accountable, hold government officials accountable, and with Solutions Journalism we are also like guide dogs as well. It’s not enough anymore for us as journalists to say, ‘this is what’s wrong with society’ and expect society to self-correct.”
Not only has Wise brought this tool to her students at Texas State University, but she travels to universities across the country and in Canada to speak about Solutions Journalism with other journalism students. Wise said that she feels she can still make an impact with Solutions Journalism by incorporating it into her lectures.
“I’ve been able to expand that impact more so now it’s not just my 80 students, but students all over the U.S. and students in Canada,” Wise said. “So, even though I’m not directly writing anymore, I feel like my impact has increased. Is it better to write one story that might reach 100,000 people, or is it better to train 100 people who then have a ripple effect on hundreds of thousands or more?”
Global News Team
Other than acting as a liaison with other universities and incorporating Solutions Journalism into their work, Wise takes journalism students to third world countries to work within communities with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s organization called the Global News team. In early January, Wise accompanied students to Guyana where they worked in a small hospital.
Journalism major Katie Burrell is the University Star news editor and a member of the Global News Team. She said that the experience with Solutions Journalism helped shape the way she has changed her writing.
“As a journalist I often find or hear about issues and then I research, investigate, and report,” said Burrell. “Her method of applying Solutions Journalism to that technique adds the extra task of investigating solutions and I believe that’s going to change how I work in my career.”