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We Need More Solution-Focused Media

We Need More Solution-Focused Media

Positive solution-focused media helps to alleviate stress and improve willingness to act. Importantly, it gives viewers hope.

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Image via BadBrother.

It’s true what they say about negative media, “If it bleeds, it leads.” But studies now show, being exposed to repetitive, negative stimuli can make the general public feel helpless. In fact, a recent survey from the Harvard School of Public Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and NPR found that reading, watching, or listening to negative news is one of the leading causes of stress among Americans.

The research also concluded that consuming more negative news can lead to individuals having less trust in political leaders, lower evaluations of other people and communities, and more psychological problems. On the opposite end of the spectrum, studies show that people who read inspiring and uplifting news stories not only feel better, but are more willing to act afterwards, like signing a petition or donating money to support a cause from the story. But, positive media alone also isn’t enough.

We need more positive media that’s tied to action. We need more solution-focused media.

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Image via BadBrother.

Solution-focused media is an approach that focuses on the responses to issues, as well as the problems themselves. Solution-focused media is honed in credible research or evidence, and can effectively tell a story or explain why something may or may not be working.

It isn’t always feel-good, but solution-focused media does tell a more complete and compelling version of a story. This type of media can change the framing for an audience, effectively making it feel more optimistic to the end viewer, even if the content is negative. In a world that’s rapidly changing, solution-focused media gives viewers hope, a direction to latch on to, and is necessary to keep momentum going on topics that feel impossible to digest.

If you’re interested in crafting solution-focused media, there are a few ways to ensure you’re taking an inclusive approach, no matter the medium:

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Image via BadBrother.
  • Focus on the response: This should be an in-depth response to the problem, highlighting how the response works. For example, in 2018 POLOTICO Magazine launched their “What Works” series to explore “innovative ideas from across the United States” and how they work—including a Houston-based health app preventing flood damage and Baltimore’s after-school program growing tech gurus.
  • Focus on effectiveness: Highlight the available data around the issue being shown, and avoid false-hope narratives as often as possible. In Fast Company’s Impact section, they explore “the big ideas that are changing the world” and are backed by data.
  • Focus on offering insight: Think of this as an interactive feedback loop. When you offer insight, it should bring new thoughts or questions to the surface for greater exploration. On the podcast “How Do We Fix It?,” the show consistently explores the world’s most complex issues while integrating the latest data. They cover everything from the topics of climate change to taming Big Tech.

Creating a shift to solution-focused media is critical to not only enhancing storytelling, but the health of our society. This type of media has been shown to decrease levels of stress and anxiety. Similarly, solution-focused media can make creative work more grounded and rooted in reality.

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Image via BadBrother.

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