How to Frame your Solutions Reporting on COVID-19

Questions for COVID-19 Solutions Reporting

COVID-19 is one of the most written-about events in the modern era.

Much of that reporting has by necessity focused on the problem, in all of its complexity. But there are many opportunities to report on responses — the people and institutions around the world working to effectively and rapidly find solutions.  After all, every single community in the world faces the same issues.  Some of those responses will be more newsworthy and successful than others. 

Of course coronavirus can’t be solved in one fell swoop, and in figuring out how to approach a response story, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many needs. The best of these stories zero in on specific questions, small but important in the war on COVID-19. Here a set of questions journalists can ask to get started on creating solutions journalism, divided up by potential problem areas:

By the Need to Support Populations Most Directly Affected or Most Vulnerable to Infection

  • What’s working to help the elderly stay healthy?
  • What’s working to provide health and safety resources for people experiencing homelessness?
  • What’s working to ensure the health and safety of people who are incarcerated?
  • What’s working to connect people with disabilities to health and safety resources?
  • What’s working to feed children dependent on school lunches?
  • What’s working to support single parents navigating childcare and work responsibilities?
  • What’s working to help schools provide effective distance learning for students with disabilities?
  • What’s working to counter racism against people from Asian groups being targeted?

By the Need to Minimise Disruption of Social Distancing

  • What’s working to combat the social isolation that accompanies social distancing?
  • What’s working to optimize how schools are conducting virtual learning and maintain a sense of community during coronavirus closures?
  • What’s working to create a sense of normalcy for children?
  • What’s working to support small businesses that have been forced to cease or curtail operations?
  • What’s working to help quarantined people vote from home?

By the Need to Create and Preserve Critical Resources

  • What’s working to ensure hospital staff have enough protective equipment?
  • What’s working to rapidly create hospital beds and increase treatment capacity?
  • What’s working to get people vaccinated? 
  • What’s working to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 at home or for those without access to testing?
  • What’s working to combat disinformation around COVID-19 and the vaccines?
  • What’s working to prevent hoarding of essential supplies?

By the Need to Protect Occupations Most Directly Affected

  • What’s working to support the mental and physical health of doctors, nurses, and hospital workers?
  • What’s working to support the mental and physical health of the people who do essential work in pharmacies and grocery stores, or who deliver goods?  
  • What’s working to support workers who have temporarily or permanently lost their incomes?
  • What’s working to maintain the mental and physical health of journalists?

Adapted from 24 Questions to Frame your Solutions Reporting on COVID-19  (The Whole Story)

For more tips from the Guardian’s Mark Rice-Oxley, see Covering COVID-19 in Europe through a solutions lens: Six insights from an editor at The Guardian by Julia Hotz of the Solutions Journalism Network.

Examples of solutions stories related to COVID-19

New service tasks students to help isolated people during coronavirus (Positive News)

‘It’s a community effort’: Wiltshire villagers unite against coronavirus isolation (The Guardian)

Bristolians are self-organising a phenomenal coronavirus fight back in ways that will outlast pandemic (The Bristol Cable)

Filling the lockdown learning gaps with pub quizzes (Inkline)

‘Vigilantes’ on a mission to reunite owners with their stolen bikes (The Guardian)

‘Everyone wants to do their bit’: The volunteers sewing scrubs for NHS workers (Positive News)

‘Let children be children’: Supporting young refugees’ mental health in Wales (The Local)

Hotels Open as ‘Comforting Refuge’ for Health Care Workers (NYT)

Telemedicine Arrives in the U.K.: ‘10 Years of Change in One Week’ (NYT)

Also, explore the Solutions Journalism Network’s Solutions Story Tracker, which has more than 1,000 stories on how people are containing COVID-19, and coping and caring for each other during the pandemic.