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New online course offers forward-looking focus to news stories during the COVID-19 pandemic

Apr 30, 2020

Posted in: News

By Conor Lobb, VCU Office of Continuing and Professional Education


Update (May 11, 2020); This course has been postponed until the Spring 2021 Semester. Please stay tuned for additional updates about this course during the Fall 2020 Semester. 

A new Virginia Commonwealth University online course is teaching students about solutions journalism — rigorous reporting on how people are responding to problems — and how to use it during the COVID-19 crisis.

"Solutions journalism is an innovative approach, especially in these times of crisis, to go beyond the headlines and provide a forward-looking perspective to news audiences,” said Marcus Messner, Ph.D., interim director of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.

“Solutions Journalism: Reporting during COVID-19 and Beyond” is being offered by the Robertson School in the College of Humanities and Sciences in partnership with the VCU Office of Continuing and Professional Education

The course is ideal for undergraduate and graduate students in the Robertson School, VCU and VCU Health employees working in a communications role, and for professional journalists or anyone reporting on responses to social problems, including reporters, producers, editors, freelancers and related professionals.

Karen McIntyre, Ph.D., an assistant professor of multimedia journalism and director of graduate studies in the Robertson School, will teach the course. Her international and interdisciplinary research focuses on journalism processes and effects.

“Dr. McIntyre is an internationally respected authority on solutions journalism who will provide incredible training opportunities to students and participants in this course," Messner said.

McIntyre said the public is inundated with news about the pandemic.

“Oftentimes that news can cause people to feel anxious, fearful or hopeless,” she said. “Solution-focused stories are necessary, perhaps now more than ever, because they can mitigate some of those effects by informing the public not only about the problem but what people and organizations are doing to respond to the problem.”

While the course is asynchronous and recordings of lectures will be available, students can tune in to view live broadcasts. The course will include guest speakers and online discussions, and students will report and write their own solution-based news story.

The course begins May 18. To learn more and register, visit: