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Creating SoJo with Appropriate Frames, Sources and Structures

Framing Solutions Journalism Stories

Objectives: Introduce students to solutions journalism and how its framing differs from traditional journalism
Delivery method: Instructor modeling and facilitated discussion
Materials: Display facility
Room setup: Student in seats
Time: 45-90 minutes

Activity 1: Introduction to solutions journalism and framing

  1. Instructor shares Crime in Chicago by the Chicago Tribune, asking students to orally share the series’ positives followed by the potential negatives/areas for improvement (“plus/delta” analysis).
  2. Instructor asks students to share how the series affects them as a reader (not a journalist).
  3. Repeat the exercise with a solutions series about crime, Seeking Safety by The Fayetteville Observer.
  4. Ask students to consider more broadly the effects each approach has on audiences. Introduce the concepts of episodic and thematic framing. Follow (either immediately or at the end of the week) with a written reflection exercise and reading about frame theory.
  5. Show students the Solutions Journalism Network’s whiteboard explainer video.
  6. Ask students to write brief answers (on paper or in online learning management system) to the following questions based on the Think/Puzzle/Explore model: 1) What do you know about SoJo? 2) What questions do you still have about SoJo? 3) What do you want to explore about SoJo?
  7. Students then discuss their answers in triads using the Think/Pair/Share inquiry strategy. This exercise helps “activate prior knowledge, generate ideas and curiosity and sets the stage for deeper inquiry.” (FYI, the explore question – “What do you want to explore about SoJo? – can be revisited at the end of the term in a final reflection exercise.)
  8. Instructor encourages whole-group discussion

Note: These exercises should be followed by the “Introducing the Four Qualities” activity.

Variation: If your class is focused on covering a specific social issue from a solutions lens include readings and reflection exercises that help students unpack how the issue is typically framed by journalists and how solutions journalism about that topic might encourage different frames. Here (FILE) are some examples from a course about solutions and the #MeToo movement.Tip: Interweave questions about framing through future class discussions and activities as students’ understanding of solutions journalism deepens.

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