Telum Talks To... Portia Ladrido of UK-based INKLINE on the importance of solutions journalism

Telum Talks To... Portia Ladrido of UK-based INKLINE on the importance of solutions journalism

Portia Ladrido has always viewed journalism as public service. For almost a decade, she has widely covered the drug war, women’s issues, and human rights in the Philippines. The only difference today, in an age where disinformation is prevalent, Portia has turned to Solutions Journalism to address and present the whole story.

While there is no one perfect solution, she urges journalists not only to report an issue, but also to search for solutions and quantifiable impacts that can be actioned or taken into consideration. In doing so, they are able to offer a response, provides evidence of impact, its limitations, as well as other insights that may be helpful for readers who want to replicate that solution. 

Portia is also a solutions journalism champion in the Metro Manila area for Solutions Journalism Network (SJN), a New-York founded non-profit organisation, that aims to educate journalists on the approach.

How do you think your experiences have shaped your career as a journalist?
The stories I previously reported on educated me about the deepening social, economic, and humanitarian crisis in my country. However, as a journalist who’s always viewed journalism as a public service, churning out features upon features on these issues without offering any semblance of hope or action steps seemed unproductive - not only for me, but also for the subjects of my interviews, and of course, our readers.

Solutions Journalism became my antidote. It made readers more engaged with the story, the subjects of my feature pieces more empowered, and collaborations from different sectors more possible. It’s somehow made journalism a conduit to active citizenship, an important bedrock to any functioning democracy. 

In your opinion, why is Solutions Journalism important for the Philippines?
Human rights and civil liberties have been curtailed, in large part due to the proliferation of hate speech and the dissemination of mis- and disinformation. False news, and some Filipinos’ affinity to it, is a recurring problem. This very tense atmosphere has forced many citizens to disengage from media, news, and civil discourse in general. 

So in making the solutions journalism approach more popular in the Philippines, I think it can be a way to take back civil discourse while also giving solutions that could tangibly help communities we write stories about. 

Thank you for sharing more about your role at INKLINE, with co-founders across the UK, India, and the Philippines, what are some stories that pique the interest of the team? 
The INKLINE team generally gravitates towards social justice stories, that are written with a solutions lens. But specifically, I think what binds us as well is our inclination towards stories around climate change, especially with how expansive and universal the surrounding conversation has been.

How can media practitioners, from PR agencies, local journalists to university educators, play their part in giving more visibility to Solutions Journalism? 
Solutions Journalism primarily delves into how people are responding to universal problems as seen on SJN's StoryTracker feature.

Anyone can explore and learn about solutions journalism on the website, this includes various solutions stories that many journalists, agencies, and educators can learn from. There are also extensive online courses available, and SJN is active on Twitter and Facebook regularly posting updates on grants, classes, and other opportunities. 

What is the one story that you or a connection wrote that you deem most memorable? 
Personally, it’s the story I wrote about how a sewing facility employs widows and orphans of the drug war in the Philippines. It’s most memorable because it showed me what solutions journalism can concretely offer because after sharing that story, I was bombarded with inquiries from readers about how they can donate to the facility, how they can employ the drug war widows, or how they can further support the initiative.

In this piece, it was highlighted how the widows and orphans have ownership of that facility, not merely beneficiaries of the project, hence making the subjects of the article active participants to their story rather than just passive anecdotes for the feature. 

Seeing all this happen was exactly how I imagined journalism as a public service, and it’s also like active citizenry in motion, and it was very exciting to witness. 

Where and how do you usually source the stories that you report on? 
Through people I talk to who are often engaged with on the ground community initiatives. I think the best solutions stories are those led by community members, so it’s always fruitful to learn from them. 

As a solutions journalism champion based in Metro Manila for Solutions Journalism Network, what do you hope to achieve for the country / across Asia Pacific?
I hope that we can make solutions journalism a common practice for all newsrooms and publications. I hope that more and more journalists can call themselves solutions journalists.

I also don’t think we are trying to reinvent the wheel here, honestly, we are just trying to inject a more holistic approach to storytelling, to journalism. That’s why it’s an approach, and it still employs the basic tenets of journalism, such as objectivity, fairness, public accountability, etc.

We are not advocating to ban traditional journalism, but instead to balance it with solutions-approached news and features. We are doing the public a disservice if we only inform them of the bad that’s going on in the world when there is also so much good. 

How do you manage your time effectively amid your various roles and responsibilities in the industry?
I’m not sure. I have brief breakdowns from time to time, and then I carry on. 

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