The program aims to develop a framework of solutions journalism to help society multiply success stories, and recover faster from the economic, psychological, and personal crises caused by the pandemic.
In an era where journalism relies on breaking news, re-publishing press releases, or drive-by attempts that do little to illuminate the audience, complex issues such as rural economy and rural development are yet poorly covered in mainstream media, even though 21st century Romania is still almost 50% rural. Stories about agriculture are scarce and appear to emerge only in times of deep crisis, such as the African Swine Flu; and even then, they are superficial.
Existing news are either highly technical, and aimed at experts, or top-down, with no real in-depth understanding, because of lack of time, staff and resources.
Since March 2020, when the pandemic hit Romania, DoR and RAF realized that this is a long term reality and identified the need to scale up the solutions journalism from only rural development to five to seven additional areas that are essential for the resilience and reconstruction of the post-pandemic Romania.
In a fist stage (pilot), the chosen theme was rural development. DoR collected and told human-focused stories about rural entrepreneurs; the stories generated in partnership with the community, focused on evaluating initiatives for change.
A team of dedicated reporters, editors and photojournalists reported on these stories and communities and the stories produced were published on decatorevista.ro, in a dedicated section called La noi. The reporters also collaborate with other journalism institutions to try and place the stories there as well, thereby multiplying their impact.
This approach was designed to create opportunities for communities (geographical or of interests) to exchange experiences, to gather and discuss (on-line and off-line), build a set of case studies relevant for funders and policy makers interested in rural development, and give stakeholders a roadmap for bringing about change at a smaller or larger scale.
The project team also collaborated with facilitators – especially those with knowledge of the local communities – to create a good structure for dialogue and/or listening between the journalists and the rural entrepreneurs.
Since July 2020, the RAF grant supports DoR to scale and deploy their framework and process of solutions journalism to other areas as well, in order to create awareness, belonging, trust, and to affect change. Resilience is now one of the key words for DoR’s journalism, alongside reconstruction, recovery, healing, compassion, connection, and solutions. The generated content will be delivered to the public on the decatorevista.ro platform, in newsletters and in the printed magazine, and the DoR team will contribute to the dissemination to other relevant audiences and groups of journalists.
Rural development remains one of the areas covered, in addition to which the team pursues five to seven additional topics, with the aim of disseminating detailed stories about what is happening in post-pandemic Romania, answering a series of big questions that the community has such as:
- What is the impact on local producers?
- What can we do to reduce discrimination and inequality?
- What does civil society need to continue?
- How will education recover and be reformed?
- Is the current crisis an opportunity to discuss environmental change?
- How can small businesses and social entrepreneurship recover?