The old mantra “if it bleeds it leads” is alive and well in today’s media landscape. In fact, social media and up-to-the-second news have made it easier than ever to ingest a constant stream of information about the world. In her book, You Are What You Read: Why Changing Your Media Diet Can Change The World (Unbound, 2019), Jodie Jackson argues that this type of news consumption leads to feelings of anger and helplessness. The book, and this conversation, outline how solutions journalism provides an alternative that focuses on what works and aims to inspire readers instead of angering them.
Jackson is not a journalist by training and became interested in the media after feeling overwhelmed by the news herself. She earned a master’s degree in psychology and now works with news organizations around the world to advocate for a solutions-oriented approach. Jodie talk about how a news consumer might go about changing their habits, and how solutions journalism does not equal fluffy or overly positive news coverage. Her book makes a compelling argument about re-evaluating media consumption that’s worth considering for journalism educators and news consumers alike.
Jenna Spinelle is a journalism instructor at Penn State and host of the Democracy Works podcast, produced by Penn State’s McCourtney Institute for Democracy.