Do you know of an innovative project that is improving lives? If so, share the idea with hundreds of millions of newspaper readers.
Every time we turn on the TV or scroll through our news feed we see reasons for worry. Admittedly, it is the media's role to report on the world's problems and catastrophes. And yet--why don't journalists also cover stories about solutions to global problems? The press has the potential to inspire millions of people and magnify the impact of positive change.
A growing alliance of newspapers has started to close the gap between our perception of the world as a place beset by problems or brimming with bright ideas. On June 25, more than 50 publications in almost as many countries will take part in Impact Journalism Day. Their stories of tried-and-true solutions to pressing issues will reach more than 130 million readers and 500 million monthly online visitors.
The idea for Impact Journalism Day goes back to 15 years ago when Christian de Boisredon went to Chile and visited the microfinance institution Contigo. He learned that the founders had been inspired by an article on Muhammad Yunus before the microcredit pioneer became famous. Their initiative helped lift hundreds of thousands of Chileans out of poverty. "One journalist had impacted all these lives," recalls de Boisredon. "He probably never realized his article had gone that far."
After returning to France, de Boisredon developed projects around the concept of solutions journalism, and in 2011 he created Sparknews, the startup behind Impact Journalism Day. Sparknews has since developed an international network of newspapers representing the most independent and respected journalistic traditions in their countries. It includes Le Figaro (France), Asahi Shimbun (Japan), The Straits Times (Singapore), L'Orient le Jour (Lebanon), Excelsior (Mexico), Times of India, Al Hayat (pan Arabic), the Monitor (Uganda), O Globo (Brazil), USA Today, the Huffington Post (USA) and many more.
Since 2013, the alliance has produced 300 stories that have inspired readers. To name a few: Shannon Galpin's Mountain2Mountain initiative encourages Afghan girls and women to compete in international bike competitions, youngsters at Interfaith Tour, travel the world to explore interreligious cooperation, the company Embrace develops and distributes a low cost infant warmer that saves babies from hypothermia for 1% of the price of an incubator, and Focus on Vision sells universal adaptable specs in developing countries for 4$.
Until February 26, these papers are looking for innovative, impactful projects worldwide, and have invited to their readers to apply with initiatives they created or know about. Applications are open to all.
Being featured in this network can have enormous impact, from increased visibility to new business prospects. For example, after Impact Journalism Day wrote about Algopack, a company making biodegradable plastic from seaweed, four new markets signed the product, including the USA and Japan. Barefoot College, teaching illiterate grandmothers in developing countries to become solar engineers, saw an 80 percent increase in donations in the month following Impact Journalism Day. The Austrian/Bulgarian startup GreenVISION, makers of a Braille tablet, presold 2,000 devices and signed a major contract in Kenya. Dar Si Hmad, a Moroccan project turning fog into drinking water was contacted by 60 additional press outlets.
If you have a worthwhile story to tell, let us know. Spreading the news can change the world for the better.