How does a solutions focus change the frame of documentary photography

Details: Documentary storytelling regularly focuses on the problems around us. While such investigations are both necessary and vital for a democratic culture, they do not, by themselves, offer a comprehensive picture of the world, and need to be supplemented with different perspectives. Solutions journalism is a new perspective in visual journalism that changes the frame of the story to address “the negativity bias” in the media. Rather than focusing on problems, solutions journalism looks for where people are already taking action to deal with difficult issues. As such, a solutions story is the product of rigorous reporting on efforts currently underway to respond to a problem. In this event we will explore what a “solutions focus” in documentary photography and photojournalism involves, why it is important, and show some recent work that embraced this alternative frame. Indonesian photographer Michael Eko and American photographer Celia Talbot Tobin will present work they produced for the Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative. Kyser Lough from the University of Georgia will discuss his research on visual communication and solutions journalism, with an emphasis on photojournalism.

A systematic review of constructive and solutions journalism research

Abstract: Academic activity surrounding constructive and solutions journalism has surged in recent years; thus, it is important to pause and reflect on this growing body of work in order to understand where the field can and should go in the future. We conducted a systematic review of existing literature on solutions and constructive journalism (N=94), in an effort to 1) describe the state of this field by identifying the patterns and trends in the methodological and conceptual approaches, topics, institutions, countries, and practices involved in this research, and 2) illuminate potentially important gaps in the field and suggest recommendations for future research.

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

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.