The Platform


Close to 13,000 solutions stories produced by 6,000 journalists at 1,600 news organizations in more than 187 countries have been vetted and added to Solutions Journalism Network’s (SJN) Solutions Story Tracker, a database of solutions journalism.

This shows that media organizations around the world are focusing their reporting on how people are responding to social problems. Solutions journalism is rigorous and compelling reporting on responses to social problems, according to the Solutions Journalism Network.

In Nigeria, Prime Progress, a solutions-focused media outlet, is committed to documenting how people and groups are solving humanitarian, economic, and social problems.

“We use data, investigations, and authoritative insight to produce deep features and analysis about what is working, how, and where. We also look at what is not working and why it is not working and how it can work,” Innocent Eteng, the founder of Prime Progress, said. “In the end, our goal is to encourage the replication of solutions and hold those empowered politically to cause changes to account by using our stories to show that if [a] country or community or group had a similar problem like ours and they were able to solve it, then we have no excuse not to solve the problem and give citizens the happy life they deserve.”

Eteng adds that the aim is to produce quality solutions stories that will drive positive impacts. “Apart from making sure every story is objectively written in fairness and responsible language, we have certain boxes a story must tick before it is considered [a] solutions story,” he said. “Thanks to our friends at the Solutions Journalism Network, [they] have made our work easier by helping us, through their resources, to identify the most important boxes we call pillars. The [four] pillars are: response to a problem, evidence of the impact, insight (what others can learn from the solution), and limitation to the response.”

Eteng, a solutions-focused journalist based in Nigeria, said the motivation to set up a solutions-focused media outlet began in 2017 when he started receiving positive feedback from readers about how his solutions stories offered them a “break from the negative reporting of traditional media.” From feedback, Eteng said he realized how negative reporting in local and international media about Nigeria’s problems makes people lose confidence in the country’s systems and leadership.

He believes there are “beautiful things happening in this country. And if those things are reported, it would not only build confidence but also encourage policymakers and ordinary Nigerians to be more serious about solving problems.”

Today, Eteng is encouraged by the progress of his solutions platform and the positive results trickling in. Since it launched in March of last year, Prime Progress has published 98 stories, including 29 in-depth solutions stories. Out of the 29 solutions stories, 12 have been added to SJN’s story tracker.

In 2020, Eteng received a $5,000 grant from a joint partnership between the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Africa Development Bank after his pitch for the solutions-focused outlet (formerly Progress Clock) was selected as part of the 2019 cohort of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme – a $100 million commitment by Tony Elumelu to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a 10-year period through training, mentorship, and funding. Also, Eteng qualified for a $3,000 grant for the 2021 Solution Journalism Network LEDE fellowship.

Prime Progress covers a range of topics, including environment, health, and social justice. “Whatever makes the lives of Nigerians happier, easier, and more enjoyable catches our interest,” Eteng said.

Despite this, Eteng said limited finance makes expansion difficult. He said another challenge is having to develop special marketing messages to sell solutions journalism to readers in a climate where solutions reporting is not popular.

“Some of these readers are only now beginning to appreciate solutions journalism. But most out there are not aware of this healing balm called solutions journalism. I call it a healing balm because it is the healer for negative and afflicting reporting. Some others mistake it for public relations,” he said. “So, having to repeatedly educate people that solutions journalism is more investigative than ordinary, is a challenge on its own. But we feel cool doing it because we know the end effect is worth the effort.”

But Eteng is still determined. He sees Prime Progress “covering issues beyond Nigeria; the whole of Africa in the near future.”

Ekpali Saint is a freelance journalist based in Nigeria. He reports on religion, environment, health, and development issues in Nigeria. His reporting has been published by foreign outlets, including FairPlanet, America Magazine, National Catholic Reporter, Catholic World Report, and Christian Century.