"Solution-Oriented" News Stories Reach Millions; Service Reborn Online

Expansion of a news service on civic engagement

From 1997 until its close in 2000, the American News Service, a project of the now-defunct Vermont-based Center for Living Democracy, pioneered the concept of solutions-oriented news reporting and produced over 1,600 newspaper and broadcast media stories about communities tackling problems in health, the environment and related issues.

Reorganized as Community Innovation News in 2001, it is now an independent, non-commercial online news service under the umbrella of the San Francisco-based Tides Center.

Key Results

  • From January 1997 through 2001, project staff at the American News Service:

    • Produced and disseminated a total of 602 "solutions news" stories in focus categories of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF): access to care, chronic care, tobacco and substance abuse.
    • Acquired 108 subscribers (60 in the media, including seven of the top 100 newspapers, ABC, CBS, Fox News and CNN, and 48 non-media, such as associations, libraries and individuals).
    • Designed a website highlighting solutions news stories that received an average of 4,050 hits per day in 2000.
    • Provided news content for websites of subscribers interested in social change, including Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Saguaro Seminar, which uses the Internet to create live interactive town halls, and Campus Compact of Brown University, a website for connecting students to service learning opportunities.
  • Between January 2002 and October 2003, staff of Community Innovation News:

    • Launched a new online national news service offering free access to original news articles with background, resources and links, an interactive ideas exchange, and a searchable archive of solutions oriented stories.
    • Produced 25 news stories on efforts to improve community health in the areas of access to care, youth and diverse populations, education and healthy communities.
    • Led a practicum on managing media relations at the School for International Training in Burlington, Vt.