Journalists are chroniclers of major occurrences that are measured against the yardstick of known news values and found to be worthy of bringing to the attention of their audience. A new model of Solution Journalism seeks to transform media coverage to make it have more depth and purpose.
This would especially be helpful in Africa, where both local and international media coverage is always often dominated by negative news about this and that problem, with a very heavy dose of doom and gloom-inspiring content.
Very rarely do you find a lead story that is positive, one that would make the audience smile, laugh or cry...genuine tears of joy. I know for example, if Kenya wins gold in a major global competition, that nowadays is guaranteed of commanding the number one TV news slot.
This shows that in such moments, there is recognition that the feel good factor carried by such stories is beneficial and more important than the deaths, disease, conflict and other calamities, including what the politicians have been up to, that regularly hog the airtime and newspaper front pages
Solution Journalism would thus be a welcome addition in our situation, because where a problem is highlighted, (and there are always very numerous), a deliberate attempt will naturally be made to point to a way out of whatever predicament, disaster or misfortune being captured as news.
As eloquently argued by Ann Babe, writing for the Centre for International Media Ethics :
"The media, when solution-oriented, can actively function as a platform for social innovation and positive change."Moreover, most local media outlets do try to balance the good and the bad sides of an issue, but often they are treated as separate stories, e.g., famine in one part of the country and surplus harvest in another part.
The challenge then is to make one story out of the problems and solutions. I've for example received many calls, after a needy case is highlighted in a TV news story, full of inquiries about how help can be channelled to the person in need.
But if this detail was also captured in the news story as well, then the impact and subsequent assistance pledged would be greater.
Like the name suggests, Solution Journalism is a gem that can bring back the glitter in news coverage.