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Regional Interests

‘Better’ podcast shines light on solutions

In this illustration, a spotlight shines brightly on an unknown subject.
In this illustration, a spotlight shines brightly on an unknown subject.

From time to time in my day job as senior producer of OPB’s daily radio talk show “Think Out Loud” I get to book guests for conversations about people responding to social or environmental problems. Often, I’ll mention that I’m a solutions journalist, and that talking to people like them makes my day. To a person they respond with interest and curiosity, instantly loving the idea of reporting focused on responses to problems. But I’ve yet to hear from one who’s heard of solutions journalism.

I hope “Better” helps to change that. The podcast focuses on the great solutions journalism that is already there and on talking to people with first hand experience with the problem — both those affected by the problem and those who are responding to it.

The key questions: Who is making it better? And how are they doing it?

This pilot episode explores all the steps that Taiwan, a democratic island nation of 24 million people, took to keep its case count to less than a thousand and the number of deaths to a dozen as of April, 2021. We also note that the country faced an outbreak this year, after being a model for its success in preventing infections and deaths. Its challenges were partly vaccine supply and partly a population that didn’t feel the urgency to get inoculated.

At the end of the episode, we spend a few minutes explaining more about solutions journalism itself and how it can be used to better represent communities of color, boost civil engagement and alleviate some of the negative mental health consequences of consuming too much problem-centric news coverage.

“Better” was created with the support of the Solutions Journalism Network’s LEDE fellowship, which aims to create ways to highlight solutions reporting and its impact on news consumers.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions, drop me a line at afrost@opb.org.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting