Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative

An initiative to promote and produce visual journalism with a solutions focus

The World Press Photo Foundation and MIAP, the Message in a Photo foundation, are beginning an initiative to promote and produce visual journalism with a solutions focus.

The Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative (SVJI) has three objectives:

  • Develop what a solutions focus means for visual journalism
  • Commission, fund, and publish a small number of solutions stories in 2019-2020
  • Use these new stories to educate both the profession and engage the public on the benefits of a solutions focus in visual journalism

Developing what a solutions focus means for visual journalism

The SVJI will be a ground-breaking program to establish a new perspective in visual journalism. While constructive or solutions journalism has been growing as a perspective in journalism generally, it has not yet been comprehensively or consciously adopted by documentary photographers, photojournalists, and other visual journalists.

Solutions journalism changes the frame of the story to address “the negativity bias” in the media. Rather than focusing exclusively on a problem, it looks for cases where individuals or communities are already taking action to tackle difficult issues.

Solutions journalism has a number of defining characteristics:

  • It is an approach to telling stories that puts problem-solving at the center of the narrative
  • It presents evidence of the solution being implemented to address a particular problem
  • It draws on the voices of people on the ground at least as much as the views of those looking on from a distance
  • It recognizes that there is no single solution to social problems, that every response has limitations, that responses can fail as well as succeed, and that as much can be learned from failure as success

Solutions journalism is not about journalists becoming advocates who propose their own solutions, and it is not about making journalists produce positive stories. It is about using critical and investigative journalism methods to provide a more comprehensive picture of the world by reporting on the way solutions to problems are already being pursued by individuals and communities.

An important element of the SVJI will be continuing to develop, through research, publication, and debate, a better understanding of a solutions focus in visual journalism.

Commissioning, supporting, and publishing solutions stories in 2019-2020

The SVJI will commission, support, and publish a small number of new visual stories with a solutions focus. This will be done through a forthcoming call for a diverse group of visual journalists to produce original, high-quality stories. The SVJI will provide a small budget for each chosen visual journalist to produce their story, and will encourage stories that can reach global audiences, especially younger audiences, through multiple channels and platforms. There will also be the opportunity for publication with media partners, including the New York Times “Fixes” column, as well as Witness, World Press Photo’s online magazine.

Educating both the profession and engage the public on the benefits of a solutions focus in visual journalism

The new work enabled by the SVJI will be used by both WPPF and MIAP in their education, debate, and publication programs around the world to show other visual journalists the benefits of a solutions focus in visual journalism.

Next steps

We will be publishing a call for visual journalists to submit proposals in June 2019. Details will be made available here and on our social media channels.

Image credit (top): From 'Yemen Crisis' by Lorenzo Tugnoli, awarded 1st prize in the General News, Stories category of the 2019 Photo Contest.

Image credit (above left): From 'Hunger Solutions' by Luca Locatelli, awarded 2nd prize in the Environment, Stories category of the 2018 Photo Contest. 

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