Giving Compass' Take:

• Sara Catania discusses how solutions journalism can help communities find deep responses to larger social problems, such as immigration.

• What are some ways journalism can help communities realize solutions on their own time? What are you doing to support journalists who're struggling to help communities make an impact during the pandemic?

• Read about how solutions journalism can help communities of students make deep impacts through lived experience.

In 2018, Sue Robinson, a longtime journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was looking for a way to enrich her in-depth reporting course. At the Online News Association’s annual conference she learned about solutions journalism — rigorous reporting on responses to social problems — and a lightbulb went off.

“I really like the approach,” she said. “The idea that we can enable community members to take on the wicked problems in their communities on their own, and journalists can help them understand what some of the solutions might be.”

Natalie Yahr was a grad student at the time and had enrolled in Robinson’s course primarily to deepen her reporting skills.

“I was very excited that the class was solutions focused,” she recalled. “I think it fit well with what I wanted to do and I certainly thought about that throughout the reporting process.”

She became interested in immigration issues, and how local responses could affect the outcome of individual cases. “I wanted to report on some of these factors that could make a big difference and that were not specifically about the federal issue of immigration reform,” she said.

The Wisconsin county that includes Madison was part of a national pilot program providing free attorneys to immigrants. Yahr focused her reporting on whether having an attorney made a difference in the outcome of the cases.

By focusing on this “small slice” of the immigration issue, Yahr was able to shed light on a promising response, as well as its limitations. “It turns out that due to limitations in resources, what universal representation looks like is different than what the attorneys might like,” Yahr said. “But it is a chance to see how this plays out and what results.”

Read the full article about how solutions journalism can help communities by Sara Catania at Medium.