by Jennifer Midberry and Nicole Dahmen
Solutions journalism, which is defined as rigorous and fact-driven news stories that include responses to social problems, has gained momentum in U.S. newsrooms. To date, research on this journalistic practice is scant, and has primarily focused on text. This study synthesized literature about solutions journalism, visual communication theory, and photojournalism norms and ethics. The result of this analysis is a proposed set of best practices that suggests visual solutions journalism should be comprehensive, humanizing, and precise. Then a content analysis and a social semiotic analysis of visuals from solutions journalism identified newspaper stories were conducted. The content analysis identified visual trends in current solutions journalism reporting. The social semiotic analysis assessed visual work that best exemplifies solutions journalism and photojournalism tenets. This semiotic analysis yielded support for the proposed best practices for visual solutions journalism. The findings advance visual communication theory and offer photojournalists and editors a set of practical guidelines for applying solutions journalism tenets to photography.