Case Study: SF Homelessness Project Storms Media with Solutions [Video]

In early 2016, nearly one hundred news organizations joined together for an extraordinary collaboration in which, on a single day, they all published stories about the same pressing social issue. We’re not talking about the shady financial dealings uncovered by the “The Panama Papers” but, rather, the critical exploration of homelessness undertaken by the San Francisco Homelessness Project. On February 29th, more than 70 media outlets all over the Bay area covered the issue of homelessness, its effects and its causes. The scope of the project was by itself pretty amazing, but what really made the project special — in our humble opinion — was its explicit focus on responses to the problem of homelessness.

The SF Homelessness Project is also a terrific example of solutions journalism spreading organically. It was conceived by one editor in one newsroom and eventually grew into an expansive collaboration that spanned print, digital, radio and television. At Solutions Journalism Network, that is exactly that kind of spontaneous, organic spread that we seek to catalyze. While we had nothing to do with the conception or execution of the project — other than cheering it from the sidelines — we thought that a collaboration as unique and unprecedented as this one was worth documenting. In this video we speak with Audrey Cooper, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and architect of the project, and journalists from several different newsrooms to understand how the SF Homelessness Project came about, and how it was implemented. We also speak with stakeholders working to tackle the problem of homelessness to get their reaction to the coverage. Already, the project has inspired similar collaborations in other cities.