30 SF Outlets Try Group Coverage, Solutions Network Tracker Features 238 Education Stories

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A new Solutions Journalism Network “story tracker” helps find news coverage by beat and location.

A recent NYT piece describes how some San Francisco news outlets are joining forces to focus attention on the seemingly-intractable problem of homelessness.

The May 15th story (A Plan to Flood San Francisco With News on Homelessness), describes how a bunch of SF outlets have agreed to focus their coverage on homelessness for a set period of time.

The estimated 30 outlets participating include the SAF Chronicle, local TV and radio outlets including KQED, The San Francisco Examiner, and Mother Jones — creating a wave of coverage that the outlets hope will general public attention and political action. 

There are two things that make this project unusual. First and foremost,  you’ve got a large number of outlets working together rather than competing against each other in isolation (or cooperating only within the same ownership cluster).  Collaboration has become somewhat more common in journalism than it used to be, but it’s still relatively unusual. The result is an awful lot of duplicative coverage and clickbait. 

The second unusual aspect is that some of the outlets are also going to focus on solutions: “Advocacy is a longstanding taboo in American journalism, making reporters and editors wary of discussing solutions to the problems they highlight in their coverage,” notes the Times.

Who knows if or how such a thing could work for education coverage, regionally or nationally, but it’s tempting to think about. A city or region with a strong set of education teams could tackle a top issue, or national news outlets could focus on an issue of mutual interest during a key period of time. But the tradition of competition, and the assumed benefits that come from it, is strong in journalism and it might be hard to get competing outlets to agree to a topic, a time period, or to coordinate coverage. 

Meanwhile, Solutions Journalism has launched a new story tracker tool that allows you to search over 1,000 stories by topic (238 education stories!) and region. There are also some launch events taking place today in SF and Philadelphia. 

Related posts: New Approach In Seattle Includes Live Events, Social Media; The Promise and Peril of “Solutions” JournalismWhat The Gates Foundation’s Learned About Funding Education Journalism;“Solutions” Journalism Gets A New Education Guide & WebinarBoston Globe Launches Expanded Education Effort.

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.