David Bornstein, author, New York Times columnist (The Opinionator) and co-founder of the US-based Solutions Journalism Network, took part in a Foundation-sponsored retreat in early June, on the topic “Can 21st Century Journalism Solve 21st Century Challenges?”
The following is an edited transcript of an interview with Bornstein in which he explains how journalism can help society to self-correct, by helping people understand where the deficiencies are.
What is the difference between journalism and solutions journalism?
BORNSTEIN: By and large journalism helps society to self-correct, by helping people understand where the deficiencies are. The theory of change is that we need to shine a light on the dark corners of society, to bring attention and, if necessary, outrage to those areas so that change takes place.
But what we’re seeing today is that we need to re-invent many institutions designed for the nineteenth or twentieth centuries that are ill-suited for twenty-first century challenges, because of limits on planetary carrying capacity, in terms of global warming; and because the pace of change is so much faster today.
Journalism’s role now is not just to keep institutions honest but also to help people understand that in the twenty-first century, we need to reshape some of these institutions, or create whole new ones. And so the questions we need to ask are not just ‘what’s going wrong and who is responsible?’ but also, ‘what are the ideas that are emerging?, where is the knowledge; where are new models being born?’. That’s what solutions journalism does. (more…)