In response to Danny Hakim’s article exposing abuse and negligence in New York’s institutions for the developmentally disabled, Blair Hickman took the opportunity to make a case for solution journalism.
While praising Hakim’s great reporting, she added that the article felt “incomplete,” and explained that Journalism needs to do more than just expose problems. She explains journalism needs to provide analysis and solutions:
At Dowser, we believe that journalists need to go a step further: if we are going to spend energy exposing serious problems – especially problems that raise questions about the integrity and competence of people in public systems – we should also present examples of how these problems can be solved – and how they are currently being solved in other situations. Why? The press should be a mechanism for the self-correction of society. This isn’t a particularly new or radical idea. It’s the whole rationale behind investigative journalism.
Journalists shouldn’t just leave solutions up to society, but be more proactive and propose ways to fix problems.
For example, she cites a series of Boston Globe articles from fifteen years ago that exposed the abuse of two mildly retarded men and the state’s apathetic response. This resulted in the Building Partnerships Initiative, which, since 1993 has resulted “63% increase in the cases of reported abuse.” Hickman add that “though this program addresses the symptoms, rather than the disease, it’s a start, and it’s been around for nearly twelve years.”
Both Hickman’s and Hakim’s articles are worth a read. It definitely makes you consider the power journalists have in exposing problems and the power they can have in solving them.