Transitioning to solutions journalism: One newsroom’s shift to solutions-focused reporting.

Presented at the Future of Journalism 2019 conference, Cardiff, UK, September 12-13

Abstract: Solutions journalism — rigorous news reporting on how people are responding to social problems — has gained much attention in the past five years as newsrooms have looked for innovative ways to increase audience engagement. Several news outlets have launched solutions journalism initiatives. However, oftentimes news outlets separate their solution-focused news coverage from their traditional coverage. In 2018, in a move that was the first of its kind, Alabama’s largest daily newspaper, the Gannett-owned Montgomery Advertiser, executed a complete transformation of its newsroom to focus on enterprise and solutions journalism. To examine its impact, we conducted a multiple-wave survey of the newspaper’s audience before and after the transition and collected community conversations via social media data from Twitter and Facebook. The results were mixed and thus show support for future real-world research in this area. Audience perceptions from the survey data revealed less engagement over time. However, the newspaper saw an increased number of page views and longer engagement times on their solution- oriented news stories compared to their traditional stories. Sentiment analysis of the social media data showed a significant increase in positive sentiment and significant decrease in negative sentiment. Other factors, like big news items in the state and a smaller number of solution-oriented stories being published than expected, are discussed.

Kyser Lough 

Related Research


Drone Journalism as Visual Aggregation: Toward a Critical History

Hamilton, Jay. “Drone Journalism as Visual Aggregation: Toward a Critical History.” Media and Communication 8(3), 2020. https://www.cogitatiopress.com/mediaandcommunication/article/view/3117/3117 Abstract: The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs—commonly referred to as drones) in journalism has emerged only recently, and has grown significantly. This article explores what makes drone imagery as an instance of what scholars of visual culture […]

Jay Hamilton
read more
Context clues: News audiences and their higher valuation of contextualist journalistic roles

Abstract: This study explores the news audiences’ perceptions of journalistic roles, in particular the contextualist role, through a U.S. nationally-representative survey. As members of the public lose trust and interest in the media, some outlets are turning to forms of reporting like constructive/solutions journalism to provide a greater context to news consumers. Our survey shows […]

Kyser Lough
read more