Solutions Journalism: Could This Be The Mainstream Narrative We Need?
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4 min read

Solutions Journalism: Could This Be The Mainstream Narrative We Need?

This article explores solutions journalism (also known as constructive journalism), which is a global response to the negativity bias found in the mainstream media today.
Solutions Journalism: Could This Be The Mainstream Narrative We Need?
Solutions journalism is a response to the “compassion fatigue” (or public apathy) caused by the “increasing tabloidization, sensationalism and negativity bias” presented in the mainstream media. This bias in the media perpetuates a mainstream narrative which scientific research clearly shows has an incredibly detrimental effect on our personal and global wellness. In the USA, the Solutions Journalism Network carries out research, while in Europe, solutions journalism is emerging under the name constructive journalism. Dr. Karen McIntyre, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University, explains in a 2018 Journalism Practice article that constructive journalism “involves applying positive psychology techniques to the news process in an effort to strengthen the field and facilitate productive news stories.” These stories seek to rebalance reality by providing readers with critical reporting on society’s problems but also explaining how individuals, institutions, and communities are solving these problems.

The question is: Does this narrative actually work? A 2017 study compared responses of 242 participants, ranging from 19 to 63 years old, to a shock media news article and solutions-focused news article on sex trafficking. Results showed that solution-focused news stories leave readers feeling more positive. In another 2017 study, college students read one of three versions of an article concerning on-campus graffiti or rising tuition costs.

The study found students who read a story with an effective solution felt more positive and had more favorable attitudes towards the news article and solutions to the problem.

The Center for Media Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin published a 2014 study in which a sample of 755 US adults was presented with a news article reporting on traumatic experiences in American schools, homelessness or a lack of clothing among poor people. Results showed that in addition to feeling more optimistic, participants who read a solutions-focused article felt more informed and had a greater desire to share what they had read, read more about the issue and seek out more articles by news organizations covering stories in a solutions-focused manner. In a 2016 study, a sample of 834 US adults saw one of two online news articles, both reporting on the struggles of the working poor.

The experiment showed that adults who read the solutions-focused article spent more time reading the article, left the website more frequently to learn more, and demonstrated greater optimism and self-efficacy (belief in one’s own ability). A 2005 study that analyzed medical data over a 2-year period from 1041 patient records from a multi-specialty medical practice concluded that higher levels of hope and curiosity decreased likelihood of developing a disease, and a 2001 study found that positive emotion now increases longevity in later life. Barbara Fredrickson, award-winning social psychologist and Director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at The University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, published an article in 2011 that posits that positive emotions may even “undo the aftereffects of negative emotions.” It seems they broaden an individual’s thought–action repertoire, which in turn has the effect of building that individual’s physical, intellectual and social resources, including broadening one’s scope of cognition, attention and action; thus increasing one’s ability to not only maintain but to keep increasing positivity in all areas of life. A 2016 study that surveyed 1318 newspaper journalists in the USA found that younger journalists and female journalists are especially interested in “contextual reporting,” focusing on constructive journalism, solutions journalism, and restorative narrative, or “stories that go beyond the immediacy of the news and contribute to societal well-being.” Extensive research in neuroplasticity over the last few decades shows that our brain formation is not fixed but rather plastic (changeable), and recent research shows that repeated positive environmental and emotional stimulation enhances cognitive function while “simultaneously enhancing vigorous longevity, health, happiness, and wellness.” The science is clear. Focusing on solutions enhances our mood, outlook, self-efficacy, curiosity and desire to explore and share and learn more about the solutions-focused narrative, which further increases our positive emotions, broadening cognition, attention, action, and longevity in later life. This is neuroplasticity. Since the mainstream narrative educates us to view the world through negativity bias, we unwittingly see reality through the lens of problems, conflict, prejudicial categorization of others, and fear. The constructive narrative literally re-educates our brains to view the world through the lens of solutions, cooperation, acceptance of others and love – a different reality and new positive way of thinking about the world which anyone can choose to strengthen. Thus, the remedy to the barrage of negativity presented in the mainstream media is to accept that it is just a chosen view of reality and not actually real.

The solution that promotes wellness then is to stop reading and watching the mainstream media, and instead commit to not only reading but also thinking about and viewing the world ourselves through the lens of solutions. Whatever happens next, this movement is just another sign that the global, solutions-focused movement and humanity’s conscious, collective evolution is most definitely underway. —— Article by Wake Up World Education founder, Robito Chatwin. Sign up for the latest from WUWE, an academic, science-supported, online educational platform that anyone can use to increase health and happiness. Due to the pressure of mass censorship, we now have our own censorship-free, and ad-free on demand streaming network! It is the world's first and only conscious media network streaming mind-expanding interviews, news broadcasts, and conscious shows. Click here to start a FREE 7-Day Trial and watch 100's of hours of conscious media videos, that you won't see anyw.

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