Today is the birthday of American journalist Tina Rosenberg (books by this author), born in Brooklyn (1960). She is a proponent of what she’s called “solutions journalism” — journalism that doesn’t just report bad news but works to change the world by showing how the problems can be overcome. In 2013, she co-founded the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit that encourages journalists to think outside the usual parameters of their beats. “The key,” she says, “is that this coverage has to be done not as fluff, or as advocacy, or as PR, but with equal rigor — the same rigor that we use when we cover the problems themselves […] Many journalists have been doing solutions-focused stories for a long time. I think what’s new is that our organization has put a name on it, has created a teachable system for doing it, has made it into something that people can think about in a category of its own.” The key, she says, is to cover the work that is being done, not simply celebrate it. She writes a New York Times column called “Fixes,” in which she explores solutions to major social crises like health care and poverty.
She says: “We know that a steady diet of news about violence and corruption and incompetence does create in people: depression, apathy, learned helplessness, stress, all kinds of things. And it’s really bad for the news business. We are selling a product that people find painful to consume. I think anyone would tell you that that’s not a good business model.”
She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1987. She used the fellowship money to move to South America, where she researched and wrote her first book, Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America (1991). Her second book, The Haunted Land: Facing Europe’s Ghosts After Communism (1995), won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. Her most recent book is Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World (2011).