Associate professor of journalism, alumna Leigh Landini Wright will train to teach solutions journalism
MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University’s Leigh Landini Wright, ’93, ’10, associate professor of journalism, is among 17 journalism professors selected through a competitive process for the Solutions Journalism Educator Academy at the University of Oregon.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions across the country, organizers cancelled this year’s academy, which was to have been held at the University of Oregon in mid-July. Educators selected for the academy will be given a spot in next year’s cohort.
Solutions journalism is a rigorous and fact-driven approach to reporting credible responses to societal problems. The academy offers a two-day training on teaching solutions journalism at the collegiate level.
The training covers teaching several main qualities: framing, sourcing and finding solutions stories; advocacy, rigor and impostors; community engagement and interviewing; story structure; creating learning goals and objectives; and refining assignments and instructional activities.
The academy is an initiative of the Catalyst Journalism Project and is made possible with a grant from the Solutions Journalism Network, with funding from the Enlight Foundation.
“As I wrote in my application, solutions journalism simply made sense to me,” said Wright, who worked as a reporter for The Paducah Sun for 16 years before teaching at Murray State. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but how I approached stories about community issues fell more in line with the practice of solutions journalism.”
Wright began using solutions journalism in her classes last summer when she taught in the Commonwealth Honors Academy. Her class focused on the solutions to Calloway County’s hunger and homelessness issues. Wright asked Murray State alumna Holly Wise, ’06, ’08, to speak to her students about the need for solutions journalism. Wise is the Texas region manager for the Solutions Journalism Network and a senior lecturer at Texas State University.
“I had been following Holly’s work for some time,” Wright said. “Once I heard about how solutions journalism worked, I knew that I wanted to bring it to my students.”
Wright introduced solutions journalism to her capstone students last fall as they produced their website, the MKYGuide. Aside from covering traditional news, students also looked for stories about solutions to community or campus issues.
“Once I introduced solutions journalism last fall, students seemed to embrace it,” Wright said. “I plan to continue using solutions journalism in my capstone and hope to prepare students to use it in newsrooms after they graduate.”
Wright has taught journalism at Murray State since 2011 and also serves as curriculum coordinator for the journalism sequence. She has earned three degrees at Murray State, including a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science and a Master of Arts in creative writing.