Solutions-focused Journalism

Rather than start with the traditional news question of “What went wrong yesterday?”, the solutions-focused journalist asks “What might go right, or wrong, tomorrow?” The goal is to help citizens see, debate, and work towards a better future.

UBC is an ideal place to learn the art and craft of solutions-focused journalism. Vancouver is home to globally famous experiments in urban design, multiculturalism, environmental science and activism, drug enforcement approaches, media democracy, and more. Here, you can connect with groundbreaking experts and visionaries — and develop the rigorous reporting and vivid storytelling that solutions-oriented journalism demands.

The five-term program offers you the opportunity to take undergraduate and graduate classes outside the School, deepening your knowledge in science, law, political science, whichever field accords with your intellectual interest. Within the School courses such as cross-platform reporting and feature writing will hone your ability to synthesize complex information and present it in a compelling, clear manner.

Chris Tenove ‘03 — a five-time finalist for the Canadian National Magazine Awards — used his time at the School to specialize in covering international criminal trials. He is currently doing doctoral studies in Berkeley’s Department of Rhetoric in order to examine the impact of international war crimes trials, focusing on Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge trials. “As I traveled around these post-war countries, I asked people whether war crime trials would bring them a sense of justice. Most told me that the various international tribunals, held in distant cities and staffed by foreigners, did not fully address the very ‘local’ injustices they suffered.”

“I decided to pursue doctoral studies at Berkeley to study the stories that emanate from international criminal trials. What kinds of justice do they highlight or ignore? Would it be possible for the trials to trigger the kinds of stories, or the kinds of reforms, that would address the more local concerns of people in post-war countries?”

Your thesis project, supervised with second and outside readers, will be a major project of solutions-oriented journalism for radio, television, web or print. It is not uncommon for such projects to be aired or published by established media.

UBC faculty with expertise in solutions-focused journalism include:

  • David Beers, an award-winning writer and editor, has over the past two decades reported on emerging trends in genetic screening, military technology, urban development, digital media and more for publications including Harper’s, Salon.com, Mother Jones and The Globe and Mail. He is founding editor of a leading Canadian online news magazine, The Tyee.
  • Alfred Hermida is an experienced TV, radio and online journalist who joined the faculty at the School of Journalism from the BBC. He is a multimedia journalism pioneer, having been a founding member of the award-winning BBCNews.com website. He was the news editor on the site from 1997 to 2001, before launching a dedicated technology news section.
  • Peter Klein is an Emmy Award winning television journalist, who has reported from more than a dozen countries. He began his career as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. He went on to help found New York Times Television and work as a producer at 60 Minutes.