In Favor of “Solution Journalism”

  • Lim Tola
  • November 4, 2019 9:20 AM

Covering officials’ speeches and institutional press releases, writing up about accidents, covering minor news items and crimes; bringing to light, quite often with the authorities’ green light, an individual or business’s reprehensible behavior: Journalists’ daily work in the country is entirely confined to routine work that is far from restoring the former glory of a disparaged profession, their role reduced to being microphone holders and barely respected by the public.     

In the age of social networks in which anyone can pretend to be—as long as he/she knows how to adequately use a mobile phone—information generator, the devaluation of the journalist trade is a disaster for those aspiring to live in a society of responsible citizens in which debate wins over invectives, facts outlast rumors and listening to others wins over loudmouths.  

However, the public’s loss of confidence in journalists is due in large part to journalists themselves and the media that employ them in this context of excessive competition.  

Routine journalism because one has no idea what to look for beyond the dullness of officials releases; botched journalism because there is no time and, since one news pushes out the other, nothing is important; sensationalist journalism because blood and sex have forever sold papers; journalism about bad news because the so-called good news supposedly don’t interest anyone: All these types of journalism are slowly destroying the trade.   

A study conducted in Europe by the Reuters Institute and posted at the Swiss site Heidi News showed that 48 percent of the people who had stopped following the news had done so because news were putting them in a bad mood, and 27 percent added “In any case, what could I do.” 

In Europe, some journalists have tried to look into a new direction for the trade so that it could get back not so much its bygone aura but its credibility and especially its essential role in social development. 

This new direction is “constructive” journalism or rather “solutions journalism.”

In other words: Looking for ways to solve the problem rather than taking offense that the problem is there.  

Some colleagues do not adhere to this, seeing this as complacency that goes against the very nature of this trade, which they view as providing checks and balances. But, say those supporting this new approach, “this is not about being news sheets for good news. This consists of conducting an in-depth investigation into ways to address the problem instead of, or in addition to, only describing the problem.”  

This “solutions journalism” involves a great deal of work. “But this work is essential,” said Serge Michel, editor in chief of the Swiss online. “Investigating solutions is fighting against defeatism, it’s enabling involvement and action, providing elements to change things. It’s also opening the dialogue with readers who, more than journalists, know, for a given problem, which solutions work and which solutions don’t work.” 

In Cambodia, wouldn’t this form of journalism be welcome? 

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