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The Bristol Cable

The Bristol Cable wins funding for ‘The Future of Cities’ solutions series

How can we develop cities fit for the future? Over the next year, the Cable will explore solutions being pioneered here in Bristol and around the world to answer this question.

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Too often, journalism focuses on problems, not solutions. But people need to know more than what’s wrong – we need to know how we can fix it. With new funding from the European Journalism Centre, the Bristol Cable will be able to investigate, explore, and engage people in solutions to our city’s problems.

Bristol faces the same challenges as other cities: housing insecurity, food and fuel poverty, poor air quality, and inequalities in access to healthcare, education and transport networks. With half of the world’s population currently living in cities – a number expected to increase to more than two-thirds of people by 2050 – solutions for sustainable development need to be found in cities. And perhaps more importantly, they need to be shared. 

Through The Future of Cities, we will provide a clear context about the roots of many of the problems our city is facing, uncover solutions from other cities to assess whether they can be applied to Bristol, and amplify grassroots solutions being pioneered in Bristol, putting the people working on these solutions at the heart of the stories.

To explore these solutions we will engage and involve experts and local communities, and build ‘twin city’ partnerships to better understand and share solutions being explored internationally. While we’re focusing on Bristol, as ever we have our eyes on the big picture: looking at how cities can learn from each other in confronting shared challenges.

We also want to share what we learn as a newspaper with others, so we will be documenting our work and how solutions journalism can be impactful for communities and for building the resilience of community-focused news organisations like the Cable.

To deliver this project, the Cable has been awarded £110,000 (€130,000) through the European Journalism Centre’s Solutions Journalism Accelerator, a programme delivered in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Along with Scottish investigative journalism cooperative The Ferret, independent community magazine Greater Govanhill and New Internationalist magazine, we’re one of 10 media organisations to be awarded funding as part of a program which aims to support the pioneering of solutions-focused journalism in Europe.

This funding recognises our commitment to journalism that makes a difference. Our project will build on our years of previous solutions journalism, such as exploring ways to tackle drug harms, the climate crisis, homelessness, domestic abuse, and debt collection. But this funding program is crucial in providing us with the support and resources we need to deliver this ambitious, future-focused project, which aims to help Bristol and other cities understand how to become more sustainable, equitable and democratic.

Funding like this for public interest journalism is rare and vital in a context where trust in news continues to decline, as media business models increasingly lean on advertising and clickbait. At the Cable, for eight years we’ve been forging a new approach to local journalism: public interest news, free to access, owned and supported by thousands of local people. While a third of our income is from membership, we still have a long way to go to be fully sustainable in the long term, which is why we need funding like this.

But we believe in producing journalism worth supporting. Ultimately, it’s only through more local people becoming members and directly supporting the Cable’s work that we will be able to sustain this in the long term. So if you’re already a Cable member, thank you for being a part of everything we do, and helping us get to this point. And if you’re not yet a member, join us and 2,700 others in reinventing what local journalism looks like.

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