Sometimes it seems like all we hear about in the news is negative. From theft to disease, to murder and wars, we are bombarded by tragedy. After a while, it becomes desensitizing. We start to lose our sympathy for those suffering from whatever crisis is being shoved into the public eye on any given day. What could we possibly do to help? The average people of America have no idea how to prevent mass murders or the spread of diseases, so why should they care? I, too, am guilty of becoming detached from the rest of the world. With so much going on, it seems overwhelming to even begin to care.
The solution? A strategy called Solutions Journalism, which focuses not only on the issues we face today, but also on how we can go about solving them. This is an excellent way to give Americans a sense of hope. It also helps to create a community in which readers are more motivated to make a change and spread the word. Once an active audience is set in motion, it’s possible to work on creating a better world (instead of just dismissing it, as I often do, by saying “wow, this whole world is going to shit” and then going about the daily grind as if nothing had happened). The Solutions Journalism Network, or SJN, has even teamed up with other organizations to start projects in which they highlight the ways people have worked to combat the issues that face their community.
Once we see that people are capable of addressing the issues we hear so much about, we see that the world is not in fact spiraling out of control and into oblivion, like it is often portrayed in mainstream media. There’s always that constant thread of panic spread through social media to keep us ignorant of solutions. “I’m talking about the chronic, contemporary pain of being an informed person. You wake up, reach for the phone next to your bed, start scrolling through Facebook and — just like that — you are immersed in the eternal stream of rubble, corruption, and death that is the daily news cycle,” reads one article from the Solutions website.
Solutions Journalism likes to balance the good with the bad. Not only does the site inform its visitors of major problems we face, it also shows us major problems we’ve solved. However, it is careful to make these accomplishments seem relatable; instead of worshipping the heroes in the news by commending their individual decisions, they focus on the ideas they represent. As an SJN blogger explains, “Solutions stories certainly have characters and focus on how people’s actions are leading to positive changes; it’s just that solutions stories are centered more on the tangible work they do to advance solutions, and less on their (heroic) personal traits.”
Mainstream media can learn from this site. Nothing will ever change if we are constantly subjected to the scare tactics used in corporate media by the government, whose agenda is simply to control us by making us believe that we’re all doomed. If we see that each individual matters and can in fact make a difference, we might be less likely to sit back and watch our society slip through our fingers.