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Spreading Solutions Journalism

May 1st, 2014Solution Journalism

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We’re always looking to promote and support excellent solutions journalism. Our friends at the Solutions Journalism Network are launching a campaign to use health data to highlight positive outcomes that can inform successful public health strategies. We hope you’re excited as we are!

The crowd-funding bandwagon has pulled in plenty of fans: platforms such as Indiegogo, Fundable, Kickstarter, and GiveForward have helped raise billions of dollars for arts projects, inventions, start-up businesses, social causes — even, recently and somewhat famously, a Hollywood movie.

Not so much, yet, for journalism — which is why we’re very pleased to be participating in IndieVoices, a new crowd-funding site created specifically to support independent media. “Our goal,” IndieVoices says, “is to serve as a bridge that connects social investors to high-quality, independent, and socially relevant news and content providers and media companies.”

IndieVoices was hatched by Saša Vučinić, who previously founded the Media Development Investment Fund, which has successfully channeled funding to many dozens of news media organizations. Indievoic.es expects eventually to create a marketplace linking media organizations to debt and equity investors, allowing and encouraging citizens to take financial stakes in news providers that they find important.

For now, IndieVoices is connecting philanthropic contributors to worthy journalism projects. Like ours.

The Solutions Journalism Network has launched an IndieVoices campaign to raise $25,000 for our new collaboration on “positive-deviant” health data journalism. This funding will directly support reporting projects at our partner newsrooms, including WNYC radio in New York, PRI’s “The World,” several McClatchy newspapers, and others to come. We’ll pay up to $2,000 per project for travel that will allow reporters to pursue stories that otherwise might be unaccessible.

About the health-data project: The increasing availability of health data presents a major opportunity to help communities understand how to improve health outcomes. When journalists get access to such data, however, they most often use it to highlight problems, risks, shortcomings, or scandals. This is only half the story. Our approach is to help journalists surface and assess health data indicating outcomes that are better than expected – positive deviants – which can inform stories about successful public health strategies.

With support from the Knight Foundation and the California HealthCare Foundation, the Solutions Journalism Network has collaborated with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation to develop the methodology, making it feasible for reporters to mine datasets (such as the Global Burden of Disease Report) to identify an ongoing stream of positive deviants and data patterns that are ripe for journalistic inquiry. We train partner newsrooms in this approach, and then assist editors and reporters to master the distinctive narrative elements of compelling and rigorous solutions journalism.

We hope that, as a direct result of this work, journalists will use data to tell stories of places that are doing better than expected, and of initiatives that have evidence to back their success. And we hope you’ll help make that happen.

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