As the lockdown started to ease, editors of local Newquest titles attended the first meeting with the COJO Against COVID project team on 1 April to explore the nature, role, impact and techniques of constructive solution-focused journalism.  

The meeting started with Nina Fasciaux and Alec Saelens, both from the Solutions Journalism Network, presenting a brief introduction to solution-focused journalism. Drawing on their experience from solution journalism in Europe and the US, they provided a comprehensive picture of what it is and what it is not, what it requires in terms of newsroom resources, what it can do the society at large as well as to news brands, and what revenues streams are available 

This was followed by a brief presentation by the project leader, Dr An Nguyen of Bournemouth University, on some headline findings from the project’s national survey with a representative sample of 2000 UK adults. The survey, conducted a week before the meeting, shows a clear and strong desire amongst the public for more constructive solutions journalism in general as well as during the exit from the pandemic.  

The editors also met with Emily Kasriel, Head of Editorial Partnerships and Special Projects at the BBC, who has led very successful solutions-focussed journalism projects at the BBC, including Crossing Divides, a multiplatform season about bringing people together in a fragmented world, and SoICanBreathe, a season about tackling air pollution. 

Drawing on such experience, Kasriel brought much enthusiasm and energy into her responses to editor’s questions about story-telling, sourcing, and the impact of solutions-focussed journalism on audiences and society. 

The editors in attendance head up newsrooms that will be sending reporters to a UK-wide campaign that aims to provide constructive solution-focused journalism to help local/regional communities to exit from the pandemic.