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Solutions Journalism Rubric

This is an application for aiding the process of assessing the degree to which an article meets the standards of Solutions Journalism.

How it works

Given an article URL, the application retrieves the content of the article (via the Readability API) and displays it on the page. This text can then be highligted and assigned three different tags (these tags can be flexibly added, edited, or removed):

  • Problem
  • The social issue at the heart of the article. In other words, what tension prompted the article?
  • Solution:
    • The attempt(s) to address the issue, whether through legislation, community organization, protest, etc.
  • Result:
    • How did the above attempt(s) to address the problem fare? What, if any, were the outcomes.

As these annotations are built up, they are stored as a list of dictionaries, with the keys being the tag and the text, IE:

    "tag" : "solution",
    "text" : "In West and Northeast Seattle, where the growth is largest, class sizes are up and some teachers are leading classes in cafeterias  and auditoriums."
    "tag" : "problem",
    "text" : "By next year, about half of the 12 shuttered schools will be back in operation � after millions of dollars were spent in closing and reopening costs. But the reopened school can't accommodate all the extra students, and a tight budget prevents any new building construction until at least 2016."}

In addition to these in-text annotations, the app also includes a Google Form with 10 carefully-constructed questions which help in the assessment of the degree to which an article meets the standards of Solutions Journalism.
When a user is finished annotating the text and replying to the questions, they simply press Submit. In turn, the responses to the questions, the in-text annotations, and other relevant metadata are deposited in a Google Spreadsheet. This spreadsheet can then be easily exported for offline analysis.


The easiest way to host this application is on Github via gh-pages. Of course, seeing as that the app is built on static files and doesn't need a server, you could also simply hos the application on Dropbox, Amazon S3, or an equivalent file-sharing service. Contact Brian Abelson for advice / help in this process.


If you would like to change any of the fields in the rubric, you'll need to edit the form that underlies the Google Spreadsheet (see here). You'll then need to follow these instructions to extract the correct HTML from this form. With this updated HTML, you'll want to go into index.html and overwrite everything inside of <div id="form-container">. This is identified in the document with two comments: "BEGINNING OF GOOGLE FORM" and "END OF GOOGLE FORM". While this should work fine, you'll also want to remove some unnecessary things such as the text under each question which says "This is a required field." Finally, to improve the UI, you'll want to add a hidden-field class to each of:

  • artcle_headline
  • article_url
  • article_annotations
  • article_content

Since these fields are automatically added by the app, it's confusing to a user to have them visible. See lines 549,573,597, and 621 of index.html for examples of this.
If you have any additional questions, please contact Brian Abelson: