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September 10, 2019

How Resolve Philadelphia powers solutions-oriented, collaborative reporting

This case study on how Resolve Philadelphia powers solutions-oriented, collaborative reporting on complex social issues is from the Wyncote Foundation’s 2019 Building Stronger Communities Through Media report. It is the sixth in a series on innovations in local journalism, public media and storytelling we’re republishing with their permission and the permission of the authors.

What happens when a region’s newsrooms collaborate to report on promising approaches to addressing a community’s most pressing problems?

Resolve Philadelphia is among the largest solutions journalism collaboratives in the U.S.
Media partners strategic planning session for the Reentry Project.
(Images by Jim MacMillan)

Resolve Philadelphia is among the largest solutions journalism collaboratives in the U.S. It leads reporting among 23 commercial and nonprofit news organizations including partners from the city’s largest general interest news operations; community, ethnic, and neighborhood media outlets; and digital journalism start-ups.

Solutions journalism is an approach to news that focuses reporting on efforts to address social problems.

Solutions journalism aims to inspire changes in policy and practice and to shift dominant narratives from problem identification toward hopeful solutions. Advocates for a solutions approach believe that news stories can leave audiences ready to engage and participate instead of feeling frustrated and powerless.

Solutions-focused collaboration

Resolve Philadelphia launched in 2016 when 15 newsrooms collaborated to report on prisoner reentry, a critical challenge in the city. The Reentry Project resulted in 200-plus stories that brought the subject to the forefront of civic discourse and won the American Press Media Editors’ annual
award for community engagement.

We are overcoming some of the very legitimate and inherent obstacles to work on collaboration among newsrooms.

Resolve Philadelphia Co-Founder Jean Friedman-Rudovsky

Broke in Philly, the group’s next project, focuses on the city’s persistent rates of poverty. As a result of concerted outreach efforts, Broke in Philly is involving more newsrooms, which collaborate on reporting, events, and a central website. Shared web content incorporates features such as a map of resources for housing, food, healthcare, and other services; a guide to encourage charitable giving to nonprofits working on economic mobility; news and resources in Spanish; and a phone number for texting ideas to lead editors. Partners’ newsroom personnel meet in person every four to six weeks to share story ideas and discuss next steps.

Asked about the downstream effects of this work, co-founder Jean Friedman-Rudovsky says, “We are overcoming some of the very legitimate and inherent obstacles to work on collaboration among newsrooms, and we’re elevating topics and potential solutions in our community. Together we can move a problem from intractable to unacceptable.”

Grants from the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the Wyncote Foundation, and the Knight Foundation advanced the collaborative’s early work and helped encourage partners to be involved. You can also read an impact report on The Rentry Project here.

At a Glance

  • Organization Type: Independent nonprofit organization
  • Operating Budget: approximately $250,000 in 2018
  • Key Funders: John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Solutions Journalism Network, Wyncote Foundation
  • Contact: Jean Friedman-Rudovsky, co-executive director, jean (at) resolvephilly.org

Related Links


About Wyncote Foundation

The Wyncote Foundation’s Public Media and Journalism Program is a place-based philanthropy in Philadelphia that works to further a thriving public media ecosystem that is vital to animating and sustaining democracy’s public sphere.

About the Author

Sarah Lutman writes about people and organizations making journalism more democratic

Sarah Lutman is founder of 8 Bridges Workshop, a St. Paul-based consulting and program development firm, and serves as senior advisor to Wyncote Foundation’s Public Media and Journalism Program.