Discovering Solution Journalism: MAX Facebook Live April 2021

In the session of last Friday 23rd of April, The Local offered a glimpse of the training curriculum on Solution Journalism and Migration Reporting they developed, the online (due to the COVID19 restrictions) training sessions with over 100 participants from 20 countries carried out (mainly professionals and students’ journalist), and the key results achieved during the last 2 years of the MAX project.  

When starting their training sessions, Catherine Edwards, Jessica Phelan and the rest of The Local team asked participants how they thought migration reporting looks like at the moment. What participants around Europe were bringing up, again and again, was lack of nuance.  

Migrants are often dehumanized in the way media informs about them, putting an exacerbate accent to one point of the migration journey, the crisis moment, without reporting on who the people are, why are they moving or how. This is not only bad for migrants themselves, exposing them more to episodes of discrimination and xenophobia, but also for the readers. Being informed only from the crisis angle can produce a sense of overwhelming lack of hope, the feeling that there is nothing that can be done when it comes to migration flows. On the other hand, it is flourishing the number of news that portrait migration in a more joyful way, adding more details about the person behind the story and showing migrants have also agency over their own lives. Nonetheless, it is quite common that such news is about remarkable moments, showing migrants with extraordinary skills or talents, having a lucky break’ or migrants who have achieved something outstanding. This is something that could lead to thinking migrants need to do something extraordinary to be worth of such recognition, which sounds certainly not fair and unbalanced.  

Coming in between those two poles, and with the objective to provide a more accurate reporting on migration, Solution Journalism isn’t just about ‘stories of people who make it’. It’s stories of how people make it. And to understand that, you may ask many questions. 

Then, what do Solution Journalism articles do? 

  • They look at a response to a problem. Who’s doing something? 
  • They go into depth on how the response works. What exactly are they doing?
  • They provide evidence of impact. How well does it work, and how do we know?
  • They include limitations. There are few perfect solutions, what needs to be improved?
  • They offer teachable insights. What can others learn from this? 

This is therefore a new way of doing journalism that some journalist can be sometimes sceptical about, above all because such comprehensive reporting is resource-intensive. However, it is important to highlight that we should try and apply this methodology because it tells the whole story, it is based on evidence, offering the readers the possibility to hear about a constructive story that can lead to a meaningful conversation or even be applied to a different context; if it worked there, it could be replicated somewhere else! 

Hence, we can conclude that It’s Solutions Journalism if…  

  • It looks at a response to a problem 
  • It goes into depth on how the response works 
  • It provides evidence of impact 
  • It includes limitations  
  • It offers teachable insights 

To close the session, Jessica and Catherine presented two examples of the articles wrote by the participants of the MAX Solution Journalism training 

We help prepare migrants for the job market – and prepare Greek employers for diversity’ by Dimitra Karapanagiotou 

‘How locals are helping refugees navigate Hamburg’s crowded housing market’, by Hannah Lesch 

All the articles, almost 50 in total, are published in The Local’s section ‘Changing the narrative’.  

We hope that these articles help give a new perspective to the topic of migration, by reporting on signs of progress and the lessons we can learn, encouraging others, especially media professionals to increase the coverage about migration, trying to incorporate as much as possible the above-mentioned criteria to get the voices of the people you are talking about in the articles, strengthening trust and providing a nuanced migration public discourse.  

You can re-watch the FB Live here.