We have been fans and close observers of the Solutions Journalism Network’s approach to reporting for some time. Though not every project we produce calls for such an approach, many of our values at BINJ align with the mission and goals put forth by SJN:
- Train journalists to cover the whole story—what’s wrong and the responses to those problems
- Support solutions reporting projects that move the needle in communities around the world
- Bring journalists together to learn, share, and collaborate—helping the solutions approach to spread faster
- Catalyze activities that connect solutions reporting to constructive, de-polarizing public conversations
- Get high-quality solutions stories to the people and institutions who need them to make change
With those ideal approaches in mind, it made sense for us to apply for our first SJN grant in collaboration with Jean Trounstine, an informed hard-working chronicler of Massachusetts prisons and the plights of those caught in the system. In two features produced earlier this year—one about the fight against life without parole (LWOP) sentencing, and another piece detailing the dysfunction of the parole board in Mass—Trounstine already began breaking ground on these issues, and her work will be expanded with support from SJN. From the announcement:
In the Renewing Democracy projects, newsrooms are unearthing and examining innovations aimed at fixing problems like citizen apathy, voter suppression and gerrymandering—innovations that cut to the heart of democracy and citizenship …
The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism is examining how grassroots campaigns in Massachusetts and elsewhere are challenging policies related to parole, fighting to reduce the number of people sentenced to life without parole, and in many cases, having success and creating real change.
Also congratulations to the other organizations chosen for Renewing Democracy grants—WABE in Atlanta, Black Women Unmuted, Carolina Public Press, the Christian Science Monitor, City Limits in New York, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the Hartford Guardian, the Hartford Independent, the “How Do We Fix It” podcast, Ohio Valley Resource, Ronan Valley Journal in Montana, the Texas Tribune, Unidad Media Group, Washington Monthly, and Underscore in Oregon.
We look forward to reading all of the work produced with this initiative, and are excited to add to the growing body of solutions-oriented reporting. BINJ will also host two public events addressing parole and prison in Mass, so be sure to sign up for our newsletter for all the latest updates.