What is Solutions Journalism?

October 25, 2019

Recently, the Walker Art Center hosted a New York Times panel about local news. The topic was how to use solutions journalism to approach stories and better connect with their readers.

What is solutions journalism? While it might sound like a clickbait term, solutions journalism is an approach with four defining characteristics:

  • Character-driven, but goes deep on a response to a problem and how the response works in meaningful detail;
  • Focused on effectiveness, not good intentions, presenting available evidence of results;
  • Discusses the limitations of the approach to a problem;
  • Seeks to provide insight that others can use.

The goal is to provide comprehensive, high-quality pieces that illustrate impacts and address larger-than-life problems with creative solutions.

How does this change how public relations teams approach journalists?

As the sister field of journalism, public relations can dip into solutions journalism—and develop stronger relationships with reporters—by framing a story or pitch using the following tenets.

  • Identify an issue and consequences of actions tied to it;
  • Illuminate what’s missing from the public conversation;
  • Provide insight into an effective response to those actions—what is the response, what is its impact?

By taking into account the long-term impacts of developing better, more productive relationships with newsrooms, public relations teams can help create balanced stories and highlight our institution's impact in our communities and state.

Learn more about solutions journalism.


To learn more, contact Katrinna Dodge with University Public Relations at kdodge@umn.edu.