By Shereen Siewert, Wausau Pilot and Review Publisher
For the second time in less than three years, Wausau Pilot and Review is one of a select handful of newsrooms nationwide to receive a Solutions Journalism grant, this time to examine efforts to boost student voter turnout in Wisconsin.
The Solutions Journalism Network’s mission is to help journalists rebalance the news with in-depth reporting about what’s going right, which strengthens and complements coverage of what’s going wrong. The initiative provides grant funding for solutions-focused coverage that avoids hyperpartisanship and sensationalism.
In short, we’ll be exploring what works.
In the Renewing Democracy projects, “newsrooms are unearthing and examining innovations aimed at fixing problems like citizen apathy, voter suppression and gerrymandering — innovations that cut to the heart of democracy and citizenship,” according to the SJN.
Here’s a look at some of the other projects that received funding in 2019 from the Solutions Journalism Network:
- In New York City, City Limits will analyze the impact of a 30-year-old effort to reduce the role of private money in elections and look for models in other states that might work even better.
- In Texas, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times will highlight what’s worked in removing barriers that keep eligible voters from registering and casting ballots.
- “How Do We Fix It” — a weekly podcast hosted by two journalists — will highlight ways that technology is helping strengthen communities and elections rather than eroding them.
- In the Midwest, Ohio Valley Resource has noticed an upsurge in grassroots organizing around issues such as health care and economic justice, especially in coal-dependent communities. It will explore how much impact these efforts have had, and whether they’ll last.
- The Ronan Valley Journal in Montana will compare two efforts aimed at restoring civility and encouraging more people to participate in public life — one local, and one in another state.
- The Texas Tribune, as part of a series of stories on voter rights, will look at possible ways to fix the challenges Texans face while trying to vote.
- Unidad Media Group in Philadelphia will examine what worked for black women who were elected locally as first-time candidates.
- WABE in Atlanta will look at what’s working to boost election integrity, voting access and public trust in Georgia, with a focus on the state’s new voting machines.
- The Washington Monthly will explore the growing evidence that voting by mail is an easy and inexpensive way to boost voter participation.
- In Oregon, Underscore will look to efforts that are successfully preventing young men from joining violent extremist groups.
In this round of grants, the organization sought to support “high-quality reporting that examines innovations with the potential to yield better campaigns and elections that can advance more effective democracy.”
We couldn’t be more excited to have been chosen for this effort after a highly competitive process. Our first Solutions Journalism grant resulted in reporting on potential solutions to environmental challenges on Wausau’s west side — coverage that was the basis for a national investigative report of the year award in 2019.
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