MANSFIELD, OH - Can citizens, communities, and media ecosystems, including those across Indian Country, work collectively toward solutions to address and solve critical issues facing the Country? According to representatives from the New York Times, Native Public Media, and Arizona Daily Star who participated in the Solutions Journalism Summit in Mansfield, Ohio, the answer is yes!
According to Melissa Begay of Native Public Media, Solutions Journalism focuses on solutions rather than telling the story of the problem. It is a rigorous and compelling way to report on responses to social problems and is a different approach to what Indian Country is use to.
She explains, “With a solutions journalism approach, tribal newspapers and tribal radio in partnership with their communities can tackle serious problems such as bullying, suicide, obesity, the opioid crisis, and other social ills. The ultimate goal is to engage citizens in changing their communities.”
Many newsrooms already produce stories with an emphasis on solutions and are leveraging their stories as a revenue source. Newsrooms at the New York Times, Richland Source, and Arizona Daily Star have covered stories to resolve or address critical issues such as homelessness and the foster care crisis.
Jay Allred, President of Richland Source stated that every story or movie has the same outline, explaining that journalists are not the heroes in the story. Instead, at its core, solutions journalism is an invitation into a story that provides valuable insights and solutions about tough social problems that charts a path for other community members to effectively tackle serious social problems in their communities.
According to Begay, social problems that exist in large metropolitan cities to small towns do not preclude Indian Country. With a collaborative and solutions journalism approach, tribal radio stations can work with their local tribal newspapers and Native journalists to leverage the power of local community voices to investigate and ask questions that will help to resolve the ills of their local communities, on tribal lands, and across Indian Country.
“In the Navajo, we say “T’áá hwó’ ají t’éego (If it’s to be, it’s up to me). Indian Country counts, and we are in charge to tell our truths, our stories, and ultimately resolve social issues in our communities on our own terms. Together, we are heroes,” concludes Begay.