The Action Box from our feature about Boston Latin School: CLICK HERE FOR THE INTERACTIVE VERSION

How and Why BINJ is Experimenting with ‘Solutions Journalism’

Introducing the ‘BINJ Action Box’

By Chris Faraone

I once had an editor scold me for informing a reader on Twitter that I had worked on a story for more than six months.

“No need to show everyone how the sausage is made,” he said. I remember the exchange because I still have the image of a conveyor belt loaded with veal burned into my mind.

My former editor had a point, I get it, but I’m personally a fan of the new trend in which publications are showcasing the factory floor. If people want to know what we are doing at the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, then we’re happy to share.

For our first feature, a collaboration with DigBoston (where I am the news and features editor), we started with a small project team, at least compared to the size of future crews we will facilitate. Nonetheless, with a writer, an editor, a photographer, and a fact-checker, our pipeline posse produced thorough journalism on an important topic that deserves more attention. The whole time, we test-drove reporting and editing processes in order to arrive at best practices for moving forward.

On top of that, we are working with Press Pass TV, where we are an Innovator in Residence, on using the BINJ platform to further engage community members. As Chuck D of Public Enemy famously said on “Don’t Believe the Hype,” “I don’t rhyme for the sake of riddling.” Journalistically speaking, it’s time to stop pretending that articles end after the last paragraph. There are amazing things happening in the world of ‘solutions journalism,’ and we want to play our part.

We’re not sure what this engagement will ultimately look like. For now, we are starting with an “Action Box,” which will feature names and contact information related to the topic of a story. Should you want to write a letter or engage in some other way — on either side of an issue — these tools may come in handy.

Down the line, we hope to make said boxes interactive, and to organize the actionable info from all of our features. Eventually, readers will be able to discover and parse BINJ projects by topic, and to find articles about specific communities and neighborhoods. Hopefully you won’t mind us keeping you posted about how our sausages are made; as far as we’re concerned, the more cooks in the kitchen, the better.

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