From Despair to Hope: What We Learned About Solutions Journalism from Journalist David Bornstein

Graphic with a headshot of David Bornstein and the date and time of the event

For World Savvy’s second installment of the Changemakers Series on September 22, 2021, CEO Dana Mortenson sat down with award-winning New York Times journalist, author, and Solutions Journalism co-founder David Bornstein. It was a dynamic and encouraging discussion about how journalism might be transformed to focus not just on today’s most pressing issues, but also on possible solutions – and solutionaries. This trailblazing work in our current climate of polarization could not be more timely or critical for engaged citizenship.

Imagine, for a moment, waking up each morning, making your coffee, and then settling in to read the news. But instead of an endless stream of information about the world’s issues, you open the newspaper (or your web browser) to stories covering fascinating and encouraging solutions that address some of the day’s most urgent issues – and ways you can join to create change. Wouldn’t you feel a bit more hopeful and maybe empowered, while still informed about the issues of today?

David Bornstein thinks so. 

Throughout this hour-long discussion, David shared Solutions Journalism’s mission and growth and how they are revolutionizing the field of journalism by engendering trust, advancing local and global solutions to the issues that matter most to people, and bridging political divides by focusing more on what is being done right in communities and driving collaboration across difference. Learn about all of this – and more – by watching the full video of David and Dana’s discussion here!

One of our favorite parts of the event is near the end, where David demonstrates Solutions Journalism’s groundbreaking tool to connect you to solutions stories about responses to the world’s challenges from all over the web: SolutionsU. Through the tool, you can access featured stories about current events, search for coverage by issue, strategy, SDG, and more, and even access tools for educators. There, educators can copy and customize lesson plans from their teaching collection, utilize their step-by-step guide to creating your own using the Solutions Story Tracker, share with your students how to utilize the tracker, learn from other educators how they’ve been using SolutionsU tools, and even request more information about SJN’s Journalist in the Classroom program where your students can learn directly from the journalist who wrote a story you’re using in class. The possibilities are endless.

Solutions Journalism is, at its core, focusing on a mindset shift with 25,000 journalists in over 550 news organizations across Africa, Western and Eastern Europe, the US, Latin America, and more. While the organization started out with a mission to legitimize and spread the practice of solutions journalism, that’s happened more quickly than expected – as evidenced by the numbers above – and the organization’s mission has shifted to now focus on transforming journalism for an equitable and sustainable world.

We couldn’t help but notice the parallels between Solutions Journalism’s mission and World Savvy’s goals to ensure students are not only prepared for future success in a global society, but also inspired to contribute to peace, justice, and sustainability for our world. The skills developed by consuming and participating in solutions journalism echo those in World Savvy’s Global Competence Matrix: openness to new ideas and ways of thinking, empathy, effective collaboration, critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and so much more. And Solutions Journalism’s tools are an incredible resource for World Savvy educators as they guide students through Knowledge to Action, a multi-step process based in Design Thinking in which youth learn about an issue, research potential solutions to address the root causes of the issue, think creatively and critically about how they can impact the issue, and devise an action plan to create positive change.

World Savvy envisions a future where all people, young and old, are empathetic, civic-minded, engaged global citizens. Where they can collaborate across cultures, communicate across difference, and solve complex problems. And we believe this vision starts with education – with preparing a generation of empathetic and engaged young leaders ready to address complex, real-world challenges.

This year, in an engaging series of online conversations, we’re highlighting changemakers and thought leaders across sectors who share this vision. Just like Amanda Ripley and David Bornstein have done, they will inspire us all to know more, care more, and do more for a more sustainable, equitable, and peaceful world. In this six-part series, we’ll learn from journalists, activists, civic and nonprofit leaders, young changemakers, and more. 

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