Solutions journalism offers the journalist a unique opportunity to stand out of the crowd by spotting new stories and new angles. This was the view of Egyptian media entrepreneur Dina Aboughazala, who was one of the panelists on the solutions journalism in Africa session at the recent Jamfest 2022 hosted by Jamlab.
Aboughazala is the founder of Egab which she launched in August 2020, a newsroom that specialises in solutions journalism in Egypt, Africa and the Middle East.
Solutions journalism is a new approach to reporting that simply put, seeks to identify solutions to existing social problems which involves rigorous, evidence-based research. Daniel Otunge, deputy executive director at Kenyan-based Science Africa emphasised the point that the solutions are not of the journalist’s opinion but rather are about what the community is doing to find solutions to the challenges they are facing. “You must be a good journalist to do good solutions journalism,” said Otunge.
Solutions journalism could also be used to regain the trust of audiences who have grown weary of news in general. Otunge stressed that the media has a duty to inform the public that they indeed do have the power to change a situation and that the solutions within these communities are there, they just need to be brought to the fore.
Mia Malan, the editor-in-chief of Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, pointed out what solutions journalism is not:
- Positive or sunshine journalism
- Journalism that lists potential unproven solutions at the end of a story
- Human interest journalism that promotes a project
Aboughazala identified these four benefits of employing a solutions-based approach to journalism:
- To challenge the dominant narratives and stereotypes
- To provide a more accurate portrayal of the reality in our part of the world
- To spot new angles and stories
- To further engage your audience
There is no shortage of solutions stories on the continent. “If a problem exists and is known to the community, rest assured that someone somewhere is working on solving it. As a journalist, your role is to go find that someone or group and report on them,” Aboughazala remarked.
The challenges of solutions journalism
- The mindset that the continent is doomed, it is the ‘dark continent’, and only the West can offer help
- Lack of training leads to SoJo imposters
- There are insufficient localised learning materials
- There are insufficient solutions journalism examples
- Stories require much more time on the field and editing them thereafter
- Finding ‘ ready-made’ solutions journalists is rare and training is crucial
Watch the full discussion here: