Our Impact in 2017

Journalist Practice Change

We relaunched our website, solutionsjournalism.org, in late August. This soup-to-nuts re-think included the debut of Learning Lab (see Curriculum section), the revamped Solutions Story Tracker®, and an overhaul of the Hub — not to mention significant improvements to the basic infrastructure of the site. We hosted the Solutions Journalism Summit, the first big gathering of some of our most dedicated followers. And we rolled out our Cohort Curriculum in six communities around the country (and one abroad).

Membership of the Hub (journalist-only member network) reached 1,077 by the end of 2017. When we relaunched our website, we killed off our old Hub membership list, with the intention of re-focusing our community on journalists only. Of our new members, 42% say they’ve been trained by SJN, either in person or online. And roughly 9% have stories in the Tracker, a much higher rate than before the relaunch. These are both positive indicators; our opportunity now is to build on that base of engaged members to deepen affiliation and advance practice change.

The Solutions Journalism Summit, held in November, brought together 89 journalists and j-school professors from around the country (and a few from abroad) seeking connections, support, and celebration. The feedback was extraordinarily positive: 97% said the summit enabled them to meet peers with whom they otherwise would not have connected; and 97% also said they gained new insights and understandings they will incorporate into their work.

In the eight months since the summit, there have been more than 100 anecdotes by around 75% of summit attendees doing something related to solutions journalism, from publishing stories and research
studies, to raising tens of thousands of dollars for dedicated solutions coverage and winning state and national journalism prizes for solutions series. They’ve helped us create a research plan and guide to reporting short SoJo pieces and SoJo on video. We’ve featured their work in Twitter chats and Facebook lives, and they’ve featured each other’s work in podcasts and live events. They have shifted the lens by which they are approaching writing editorials, and have become evangelists for us. They’ve taken selfies with each other in at least four different states in three different countries. We are convinced that the summit drove deeper engagement with the solutions approach and forged connections that have enabled journalists and journalism educators to learn from each other.

We rolled out a volunteer-led community strategy fully in the fall after a test run with the Portland community last March. We started communities in Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Paris, launching cohort curriculum event series in those and three other cities—the Bay Area, Portland, and New York City. Since July, we have trained 96 people in eight in-person workshops. Additionally, we have trained 194 people in five webinars, a 30% increase in participation from the previous six months.

The 14 journalists we supported as Freelance Fund grantees have published, without hassles or delays, in some of the best publications in the world. Stories have appeared in The New York Times “Fixes” column (Greg Scruggs, our Seattle coordinator, on wildfire protection in Oregon), The New York Times (Natalie Schachar on Mexico’s seismic network, days after the Mexico City earthquake in the fall), The Guardian (former NYT photographer Fred Conrad on drug courts in Appalachia), Grist (Pulitzer-Prize winner Elizabeth McGowan reporting on a Buffalo suburb rebuilding a post-coal economy), and Next City (Johnny Magdaleno on San Antonio’s fight for preservation of certain districts within the city). McGowan’s story, which made NY Times columnist David Leonhardt’s list of the year’s top stories from local/regional publications, induced Grist’s editors to produce an entire series on the topic.

Our work with journalism schools expanded; we continue to see these institutions as a highly leveraged investment in seeding future capacity. Fourteen universities have embedded solutions journalism in course curricula—including Virginia Commonwealth University; Northeastern Illinois University; and the Universities of Nebraska and Florida—five of those via a module and six with an entire semester-long course. The University of Toronto’s Munk School is close to making a four-week solutions module a fixture in its Global Affairs Fellowship in Global Journalism. Texas State University is planning a solutions journalism concentration.


1,077 Hub members.

7 local communities.

1,314 Facebook group members.

44% increase in Twitter followers, to 11,485

14 journalism schools teaching solutions journalism


The Freelance Fund travel grant program has been successful in very different ways than we had expected. We’ve heard anecdotally that this is one of the best things we offer, and that no other organization is offering microgrants in this way — story-based, not a big administrative lift to apply for and enough money to make it worth the effort, and (of course) solutions-oriented.

Where We’reHeaded in 2018

New community launches further afield, including our first community in Africa. With our support, the University of Oregon’s Catalyst Project will launch a “boot camp” for j-school professors from across the country in July 2018. "The Catalyst Journalism Project: Investigation + Solutions for Oregon’s Future” is an initiative designed to produce an academic solutions journalism “hub,” including the capacity to train faculty at other schools to bring the solutions lens into their classrooms.