This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 12/01/2018.
Let’s have even more solutions journalism in Croydon
Croydonians don’t value news journalism
Everyday, so much happens here in the largest town in Europe. And it’s tempting to believe that there is value in journalists covering it in the news. But as I’ve explained time and time again: nobody really cares about local news. Readers will tweet their favourite journalist a message of support, they’ll even share an article or two online, but will they actually deign to part with their money for it? Nope, nope, nope.
Which is why I am such a big fan of solutions journalism – as opposed to news journalism – and want to see more of it in Croydon.
What is “solutions journalism”?
Solutions journalism is the reporting of instructive, actionable responses to social problems. Solutions stories can take many forms, but they share several key characteristics:
They identify the root causes of a social problem; propose a practical, workable response to the problem that can be actioned immediately by readers; presents evidence of the impact of that response; and explains how and why the response is working, or not working. Ideally, the proponent of the solution should also be a part of actioning it themselves.
This differs from news coverage which is simple ‘this happened yesterday’ reportage, and it also differs from views coverage which is often ‘this happened yesterday…and now I’m going to moan about it across 450 words but not actually do anything to materially change it’.
Solutions journalism in Croydon
While I’m not a member of its editorial team, I’m a huge lover of and contributor to the Croydon Citizen. A big reason why is that since its inception, the Citizen has led the charge on solutions journalism in Croydon. Indeed, it’s raison d’etre has always been to move beyond the feckless documenting and bemoaning of Croydon’s problems to actively mobilising and empowering citizens to take charge of this town and change it specifically, publicly and measurably for the better.
It’s had myriad successes in this time: here you can find Andrew Dickinson publish his own Old Town Masterplan, Charles Barber used it to launch his litter cleaning task force, Anna Arthur single-handedly delivered Croydon’s annual multisite alternative theatre festival, Pancho Lewis outlined – and then built – his tech idea to house Croydon’s homeless, Ally McKinlay created a haven to save our bees. Every day, locals use the Croydon Citizen to announce, evaluate and deliver solutions to Croydon’s most pressing social, economic and cultural problems.
And that’s before we consider how it’s the site-of-record for the economic movement that made post-riot Croydon “the UK’s fastest-growing economy”!
We need more solutions, we need more action-takers
Yet for that work to get done cannot mean sitting around waiting for politicians to fix it or some other agency to clean up the mess: it requires us all to take action.
So my challenge to you, reader, is if you’re reading this now to ask yourself, “What solution do I have to Croydon’s most pressing problems?”, and once you decide write it down here in the Croydon Citizen – and then lead by example and carry it out.
News and views are lovely. Solutions and action is even better.