The Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative

Changing the frame of the story

A new program from the World Press Photo Foundation, the Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative (SVJI), is helping fund visual journalists who want to make new, image-led stories that rigorously report on responses to problems.

The SVJI is supported by the MIAP Foundation and managed by David Campbell, Director of Programs and Outreach for the foundation. The initiative, Campbell said,

“is an exciting opportunity to develop and support a new perspective in visual journalism. Every report and story has a frame, and what a solutions focus does is change the frame. It moves the starting point away from a preoccupation with the problem to highlight communities that are already engaged in putting a response to a problem in place.”

Whilst solutions journalism is sometimes misunderstood, Campbell believes that the essence of this new program is a strong fit with the type of journalism most needed today:

“Visual journalism with a solutions focus changes the frame of the story to address ‘the negativity bias’ in the media, but it is not about promoting stories that are just ‘happy’ or ‘positive’. We need critical, investigative reporting now more than ever. What solutions journalism does is look for where people are already taking action to deal with difficult issues. The solutions stories we want to enable will have to be the product of rigorous reporting on a response to a problem with compelling visuals and contextual information, and together with other approaches it will provide a more comprehensive view of the world.”

Building on the growing movement for solutions journalism as a new approach to supplement established journalistic frames, the SVJI intends to select up to six stories in the coming year for production and publication.

The SVJI is open to everyone interested in a solutions focus regardless of their level of professional experience, and the foundation is keen as always to encourage applications from around the world. The number of stories the SVJI supports will depend on the quality of the applications and their fit with the key elements of solutions visual journalism. Once completed, the stories will be published by both the foundation on its various platforms and channels and media partners around the world. The New York Times is already collaborating with the SVJI and will select some of the commissioned stories for publication in their “Fixes” column, and other outlets are being approached.

Image credit (top): From 'Finding Freedom in the Water' by Anna Boyiazis, awarded 2nd prize in the People, Stories category of the 2018 Photo Contest.