NOTE: The Solutions Specialist application form is now closed. Please check the SJN website for other job opportunities!

Here at Solutions Journalism Network, we are looking for voracious readers and bright, curious learners to join our Solutions Story Tracker® database team!

The new Solutions Specialist roles are an exciting expansion of our work to review, tag, and curate solutions journalism for journalists, citizens, and actors across society.

Would you like to join the team? If so, you can find the job description and application form here. But first, take a peek into what it’s like to work on the database from a few of our former fellows! …

In the news:

Measles makes a dramatic comeback

Officials in the United States have identified more than 700 cases of measles across 22 states. The highly contagious infectious disease was eliminated in the United States in 2000, thanks to a widespread vaccination program.

Now, misinformation about the safety and content of vaccines, including the measles vaccine, has frightened some families into not immunizing their children. Widespread rumors, including that vaccines cause autism and contain rat DNA, have long been debunked, including by faith leaders.

So, what’s working?

This week, we explore how technology and behavioral science can help reduce the spread of misinformation about vaccines. We learn how the social media site Pinterest has combated conspiracies on its platform. We discover how Pakistan addressed the concerns of vaccine skeptics and eliminated barriers to vaccination access. …

In the news:

A world-famous cathedral catches fire

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris sustained extensive fire damage last week and will now be closed for several years for reconstruction and repairs. Notre Dame was first built between 1163 and 1257. As a medieval cathedral, it survived numerous wars through its nearly 800 years, with its magnificent French Gothic architecture inspiring the religious, non-religious, and many creators in the arts. Notre Dame is one of the most famous landmarks in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sadly, this is far from the first disaster that has befallen a beloved monument.Cultural heritage across the world has been damaged by fires and floods. …

In the news:

Opioids in the United States

Members of the Sackler family, which owns the company behind OxyContin, have been sued by the Massachusetts attorney general over claims that they directed deceptive marketing and helped fuel the U.S. opioid epidemic. They have asked a judge to dismiss the case.

Overall deaths from drug overdoses in the United States doubled from 2007 to 2017. Every day, more than 130 people in the country die after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

So, what’s working?

Across the United States, people have teamed up to help those affected by opioid dependency. We begin by exploring how states have used technology to respond to the crisis, including by creating heat maps of naloxone administrations and sharing data across jurisdictions to aid emergency responders. Next, we learn how authorities in Washington’s Snohomish County responded to the opioid epidemic as they would to a natural disaster. Their multi-agency strategy helped hundreds of people access treatment. Last, we take a look at the role of baristas and service workers, who are often the first to encounter people overdosing in public bathrooms, and learn how they have prepared themselves to help in such emergencies. …

In the news:

Gun violence

New Zealand faced its worst mass shooting in modern history last week when 50 people died in an attack at two mosques. The country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has promised gun law reforms.

Gun violence is a hot-button issue in many countries, including the United States where nearly 40,000 people died by guns last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So, what’s working?

Government and civil society groups have found ways to reduce gun violence. We begin by examining why municipalities and schools are buying active shooter insurance, and how insurers are evaluating risk. Next, we learn how a program in California has helped curtail gun violence among young men involved in gangs by providing access to social services, mentorship, and financial support. …

In the news:

Human trafficking

Nearly 300 men, including New England Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft, have been charged with soliciting prostitution in Florida and New York. Thesting has highlighted the ongoing issue of human trafficking and exploitation in massage parlors and nail salons across the United States.

So, what’s working?

People from many backgrounds, including survivors, truck drivers, and software engineers, have contributed to the global fight against human trafficking. We begin by seeing how people with firsthand experience of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in India have joined together to form support groups. …

In the news:

Honoring Black history

Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize and honor people of color and the significant events of their history. First created as “Negro History Week” in 1926 by African American historian Carter G. Woodson, the now month-long celebration is annually observed in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. In the United States, commemorations are held in February in order to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

So, what’s working?

Around the world, artists, tour guides, and museum administrators have helped improve how we honor African and African American history. We begin by taking a peek into the pages of the “Black Art Yearbook” (this is a yearbook story that won’t make your stomach turn, I promise). The project uses candid portraiture to recognize the often marginalized movers and shakers behind Black art. Next, we join a walking tour through Harlem, a gentrifying neighborhood in New York City where local Muslim history is kept alive through storytelling. Last, we learn how European museums are confronting the colonial histories of their collections with long-term loans, codes of conduct, and uncomfortable art tours. …

In the news:

Prisoners’ rights and inmate treatment

A weeklong power failure at a detention facility in Brooklyn grew into a humanitarian crisis, according to a lawsuit filed this week. Metropolitan Detention Center, where more than 1,600 inmates are held, denied legal visits during the outage and provided little or no heat, minimal electricity, and limited access to medical services, all during some of the coldest days of the year.

So, what’s working?

Around the country, prisons have improved conditions for inmates and reduced recidivism. We begin by exploring how a shift toward gender-responsive corrections across 15 states is improving how officials manage women inmates. Next, we take a look at Louisiana and North Dakota, two states that have reduced sky-high incarceration rates. Louisiana changed its laws and upped investment in education, job training and other programs in prisons and jails for those about to be released. …

Misinformation can spread fear and erode trust, affecting voter behavior and even inciting violence. To help verified facts reach the widest possible audience, TruthBuzz Fellows with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) are working to bring new fact-checking formats and engagement strategies to newsrooms.

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TruthBuzz Fellow Astudestra Ajengrastri (third from left) is partnering with Tempo to help spread facts online. Credit: Tempo

The five Fellows work in some of the world’s most populous nations. One is in Indonesia, where false information is going viral ahead of the 2019 presidential election. Another is studying misinformation in India, where mob violence killed at least two dozen people in 2018 after false child-kidnapping rumors spread on WhatsApp.

The TruthBuzz initiative, supported by Craig Newmark Philanthropies, allows Fellows to work full-time with newsrooms to find ways to counter misinformation for at least six months. Through a collaboration with First Draft News, Fellows receive training in fact-checking and verification. Watch the videos below to learn how the Fellows are countering misinformation in 2019. …

In the news:

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In the United States, we remember Martin Luther King, Jr., an African American civil rights leader who dedicated his life to fighting for racial equality through nonviolent resistance. He was the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize at 35 years old. King was assassinated four years later.

So, what’s working?

We begin this week with an overview of how groups across the United States are currently working to turn people away from violent hate groups, and what they have learned in the process. Next, we look at how one organization has encouraged action to combat racism by hosting events to encourage local forms of reparations. …


Marie von Hafften

Data Architect | Solutions Journalism Network (

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