Thursday, 26 January 2017

SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM - PNG Journalists Must Write to Avoid Criticisms




I am not an expert (graduate) in journalism but I would like to use my democratic right as a citizen of Papua New Guinea and an independent blogger to clarify certain things that are part of challenges in the journalism career.

One of which is Solutions Journalism. To put words in simple layman's tern, I'd take you into wikipedia to find out what Solutions Journalism is. Solutions journalism is an approach to news reporting that focuses on the responses to social issues as well as the problems themselves. Solutions stories, anchored in credible evidence, explain how and why responses are working, or not working. The goal of this journalistic approach is to present people with a truer, more complete view of these issues, helping to drive more effective citizenship.


Recently a Papua New Guinean newspaper journalist was criticised and her character assassinated for writing up a front page story that says PNG tops the world in porn search using google. Her story was plainly based on statistics obtained from Google Trend which also shows that the Western Highlands province tops porn search in PNG.


There are few things that justifies the newspaper article as misleading given the fact that PNG has the most expensive internet rates in the world and has the worst internet reception throughout most parts of the country. About a third of the 8million population of PNG have access to mobile phones and only a few have smart phones which can access internet. Compared to Washington DC in the US, it has about 40million subscribers to the porn site Pornhub.com. So it clearly states that PNG can be no way near to other European and American countries when it comes to porn search on the internet.


I also understand PNG as a developing nation that is facing so many challenges in terms of technology which is becoming the more popular trend in the country. It is also a concern for authorities including parents, teachers, community leaders and employers that pornography is now accessible to everyone in their fingertips.


Now that is a problem that as journalists in the mainstream media will look at finding solutions by getting feedback from the people. Lets go back to Wikipedia and look at a detailed theory on Solutions Journalism.


Solutions journalism is rigorous, evidence-based reporting on the 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; prominently highlight a response, or responses, to that problem; present evidence of the impact of that response; and explain how and why the response is working, or not working When possible, solutions stories also present an insight that helps people better understand how complex systems work, and how they can be improved.

Proponents of solutions journalism distinguish the approach from so-called “good news” reporting, which can be characterized by a superficial presentation of a response without careful analysis or examination of whether the response is effective. Solutions stories assess responses that are working today, as opposed to untested theories—and they tend to place more emphasis on the innovation than on a person or institution responsible for that innovation.
Solutions journalism supporters believe that it provides an important feedback system that allows society to see credible possibilities and respond more successfully to emerging challenges. Compelling reporting about responses to social problems, they say, can strengthen society by increasing the circulation of knowledge necessary for citizens to engage powerfully with issues in their communities, and for communities, leaders, innovators, and philanthropists are to make appropriate, informed decisions on policies and investments.
Simply reporting on problems, some research shows, can reduce citizens’ sense of efficacy, leading them to disengage from public life. In a 2008 study, the Associated Press found that young people were tired of news, which they perceived as being negative and lacking resolution. This resulted in “news fatigue,” in which people tended to tune out from news media rather than engage. Solutions journalism posits that reporting on ways that problems are being addressed can increase engagement among audiences, enhances a sense of efficacy, and fosters constructive discourse around controversial issues.
Solutions journalism practitioners say the approach augments and complements the press’ traditional watchdog role, presenting citizens with a more complete view of issues. In addition, they say, it can enhance the impact of investigative reporting, by presenting evidence that entrenched problems can, in fact, be solved.
In countries like PNG, we ought to promote third world journalism. It is writing about empowering the people. Reporting on the positivity of how our people can be inspired to help in developing our nation. In this case, the newspaper article should be based on a credible angle that gives weight to the realities of porn and technology in our country.
The newspaper article received a lot of criticisms from the readers which also led to the reporter responding to critics on her Facebook wall. That also added fuel to more frustrations, criticisms and character assassination. Obviously the reporter was issued threats and all sorts of comments which is psychologically not healthy for a female citizen.
According to wikipedia Journalists and readers sometimes respond negatively to the solutions approach. One common criticism is that solutions journalism easily devolves into “feel-good” storytelling or hero worship, rather than critically examining important issues in society. In fact, some news organizations have created specific sections to highlight upbeat “good news, which can help generate advertiser or sponsor revenue.[11] Proponents of solutions journalism argue that such stories do not represent rigorous, evidence-based reporting.
Critics of solutions journalism also have voiced concerns regarding potential bias and advocacy. There is a fine line, they suggest, between reporting on responses and actually advocating on their behalf. Solutions journalism supporters respond that an evidence-based approach to reporting diminishes the risk of bias, and that solutions stories should not be connected to a “call to action” for readers.
Others worry that many complex social issues do not have clear causes or clear solutions. This may require reporters pursuing solutions stories to have considerable expertise in a subject area—and, even then, some believe that the resulting stories will inevitably be too simplistic relative to the reality of a systemic problem.

Whenever we forget about promoting solutions to social problems thorough facts and figures in our writing, we ended up being cyber-bullied by our audiences. The very people that we are trying to guide and help.
Solution journalism can be an effective way of writing about ways to cut down or bring to end a problematic attitude and lifestyle in PNG. There are many others like civic journalism which can be used to advocate for a more active role of journalism and democratic process.
It is unfortunate that journalists get slammed and called all sorts of names for writing misleading articles, but I guess it all falls back on good fact checking and editorial.


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