Story by Andra Brichacek
OR Magazine has always been on the cutting edge. Developed as a course in 2011 by Assistant Professor Ed Madison, the student-produced iPad magazine became the first in the world created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite. Industry leaders have recognized the publication again and again for its compelling combinations of solid writing, photography, video and interactivity.
This year, the publication’s student staff joined the growing contingent of journalists who are practicing solutions journalism. Rather than just presenting problems, this new approach to storytelling also covers possible solutions, with a goal of reporting the whole story while helping communities and society take positive steps forward.
“In covering complex issues, it is critical that students learn to report on more than just the problem,” said Assistant Professor Nicole Dahmen, OR Magazine’s faculty advisor. “Solutions journalism reports beyond the five W’s to also cover what’s possible.”
OR Magazine’s student staff consulted with Instructor Kathryn Thier — who developed and taught one of the first solutions journalism courses in the nation — to find and tell stories of problems happening in Oregon right now as well as what’s being done to address them.
“Coexisting with Carnivores” shows how ranchers are learning how to live alongside the wild and ecologically important wolves in their midst. “Grow for Vets” looks at cannabis as an alternative treatment for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. “Engendering Equal Education” offers Oregon schools as a model for LGBT inclusion. “Tackling Teen Pregnancy” details the state’s successes with comprehensive sex education. And “Against the Grain” tells the stories of female farmers working to close the gender gap in their profession.
“The stories are well-researched and reported, and they include beautiful and compelling photos, videos, and infographics, with design and interactivity bringing the stories together,” Dahmen said. “I’m incredibly proud of the work these students did in crafting journalism that matters.”
Andra Brichacek is the SOJC Communication team’s writer and editor. She has nearly 20 years’ experience creating content for print and online media and has specialized in education since 2008. Follow her on Twitter @andramere.