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Solutions Journalism: Finding and Sourcing

Finding and Sourcing Story Pitching

Objectives: Understand how to pitch  SoJo stories; develop story ideas for student reporting during remainder of the course
Delivery method: Student exploration followed by facilitated discussion and take-home assignment
Materials: Display facility, flip charts, markers, tape (if needed)
Room setup: Course leader by display, Student work areas
Time: One to one and one-half hours (depends on numbers)

Using “Open Space Technology” to pitch initial SoJo story ideas

  1. Instructor provides brief recap of previous lecture about how to find and source SoJo stories. She explains the “Open Space Technology” activity:
    -Some portion of students share their initial story idea and write it on flip chart paper at an individual station.-Remaining students visit presenting students in small groups.-Presenting student shares the answers to these questions:
    1) My solutions story is ___.
    2) You should care about it because ______.
    3) I need help with ____.
  2. Instructor visits each group to sharpen student exploration of story viability, particularly from a solutions standpoint.Activity Note: It’s important to help students determine the probable insight and evidence associated with a proposed solution. Help guard against student stories that may end up as soft features or advocacy. This activity is a low-stakes way to test student ideas before they proceed with story creation.
  3. Instructor facilitates repetition of steps 1 and 2 so that each student idea is considered.
  4. If students will work on stories in groups, rather than individually, instructor must follow up (during class or afterward) to finalize story selection and reporting teams.
  5. Once story topics are selected, students complete a take-home story pitch assignment to refine their story idea. The rubric is designed to ensure students do enough initial reporting to ensure their solutions story is viable and newsworthy.

Note: Follow up with students whose story pitch assignments reveal weak solutions story ideas. All students can report their progress to you in weekly reporting memos.

Tip: Either as part of your story pitch assignment or as a separate assignment, select solutions stories about each student’s/story team’s story topic from the SJN StoryTracker for your students to analyze for the Four Qualities, framing and sourcing. This reinforces foundational concepts while giving students ideas and context about how reporters approach a particular topic with a solutions angle. Grounding student learning in textual (or multimedia) analysis over the duration of the course helps crystalize understanding of solutions journalism.

Video Tutorials

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