The Partner to Truth Is Narrative: An Impact Chat with David Bornstein


by Jack Robinson

In our current public discourse, data and evidence are increasingly being misappropriated or altogether ignored. That is to say, data and evidence are not enough: the narrative that accompanies both is incredibly valuable.

At Sorenson Impact, we pursue a common set of ideals: helping communities identify solutions to persistent problems and taking those solutions to scale. Through this work, we seek to empower communities with not only the tools of “what works” to tackle these problems but also with the resources to sustain this work. Project-by-project, investment-by-investment, we are achieving tangible, meaningful outcomes—but there’s so much potential for these successes to inspire and empower others.

Enter solutions journalism.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of the leading voices and advocates for solutions journalism, David Bornstein, co-author of the Fixes column in the New York Times and CEO and co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network. If standard operating procedure for journalism is to provide an objective, fact-based reporting of events, think of solutions journalism as that plus, here’s someone who found how to resolve the issue and this is what they did. This approach to reporting on the how can call others to action. It can serve as an invaluable mechanism for increasing citizen engagement and strengthening our democratic society.

Think of this as a platform for highlighting the great work of communities. Solutions journalism is not so much the feel-good story portion of the evening news (yes, some days, we all need a bit more of that). It’s the “top-notch story-driven journalism that helps society understand how problems are being addressed,” as David Bornstein wrote in Forbes. It’s “looking at ideas and models that show promise based on evidence and data.”

In the video below, David and I discuss how people holding themselves accountable—a core asset of democracy—is made stronger when we can provide an understanding of the nuts and bolts of how people and providers are doing better. For people to recognize that they can improve, sometimes we need to show that pathways to improvement do indeed exist.

My colleagues and I strive to contribute to solving problems in communities throughout the world, and I am thrilled to know that there are journalists like David who can amplify the voice of the community champions who make these solutions possible.

See more of our Impact Chats here.

Lisa Cox