Solutionaries: Why do we look for solutions?

The day’s headlines can seem overwhelming, can cause depression, and can make you feel like the problems we face are insurmountable.

Solutionaries spotlights the people, places, ideas and innovators who are getting results on the issues that arise in their communities and around the country.

Utilizing Graham Media Group’s journalists at its television stations: KPRC-TV in Houston, WDIV-TV in Detroit, WKMG-TV in Orlando, KSAT-TV in San Antonio, WJXT-TV in Jacksonville and WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Solutionaries uncovers what is working and investigates future possibilities.

The concept was born out of the need to expand beyond the headlines of traditional journalism and to focus on solutions to the problems that make headlines.

“Solutionaries began as the search for what a future newscast could look like,” said producer Jeremy Allen. “We intended to make a news show that was intentional with its focus on delivering solutions in each story. So, in short, creating a newscast that appeals to our current audience and future news watchers while providing solutions—not just problems.”

“How do you find the solutions?” asked Solutionaries correspondent Mike Holfeld. “It is not just a catchphrase or a word that sounds great. It really can happen.”

The Solutionaries team has tackled issues such as Policing in America, Voting Rights, Inflation, Labor, and more.

How do we do it?

Each month, the Solutionaries team meets to discuss what issues are impacting the people who live in their communities and which issues demand solutions.

From there, the journalists start their work interviewing the people intimately involved with those issues and exploring the concepts that could provide solutions.

“Our reporters seem energized by the project,” Allen said. “Having the freedom to drill deep down into issues and providing solutions in each story is a cane of pace in most instances.”

“As you put a story together, all you have to think about is this,” said Holfeld. “I’ve described what happened. How can we improve that? How can we go beyond the problem and come up with the solution, so it can be avoided.”

How do we find the solutions?

GMG and its stations have used listening sessions to uncover solutions.

When investigating solutions to the one-time chronic unemployment issue, Holfeld recruited union leaders, as well as human resources managers, recruiters and college counselors to see how people could land a job in a tough economy.

“That should have been a show for the entire country to see because that was enlightening,” Holfeld said. “We got perspectives from the guys that work and get their hands dirty, the people that hire — I mean, it was so enlightening.”

In-Person or virtual gatherings with several key players on a problematic issue can shed light on what is working, who is doing it and who is seeing results.

The process focuses on the Four Pillars of Solutions Journalism, which were developed by the Solutions Journalism Network, a non-profit organization that has helped journalists around the world hone their skills.

The four pillars of Solutions Journalism (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

The first pillar showcases the response to the problem – what are people doing to fix the problem?

The second pillar provides details of how the response or solution works.

The third pillar shows evidence of results or how the issue is solved.

The fourth pillar discusses something many people do not like to discuss – the limitation of those solutions.

“Research shows that, across all demographics, audiences find solutions stories more interesting, trustworthy and informative, changing their understanding of issues in a way that makes them more enthusiastic about participating in civic life,” according to SJN.

“We want to create a movement of solutions journalism focused on appealing to current and future audiences searching for more than just problems,” Allen said. “Our feedback has been predominately positive. Many celebrate the idea that we don’t stop at the problem. We don’t just report the issues. I think by us focusing on delivering actual answers gives reporters and viewers a feeling of hope.”

“We have the power to be the voice of the people, and not only listen to them, but get answers and solutions,” Holfeld said.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.