Students work at the new Jacki and Gilbert Cisneros assignment desk in the new Wallis Annenberg media center.
USC Annenberg / Benjamin Dunn

Arianna Huffington challenges USC Annenberg students to report “What’s Working”

The Huffington Post this week launched “What’s Working,” an editorial initiative to double down on coverage of positive stories and solutions. The project includes a challenge from Arianna Huffington to the students of USC Annenberg.

Those who meet the challenge will have their work published by The Huffington Post.

Arianna Huffington:

“There’s an old saying in the news business, one that’s guided editorial thinking for decades: ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ That is, stories of violence, tragedy, dysfunction and corruption get top billing – at the top of the hour, at the top of the computer or phone screen, or above the newspaper fold – driven by the assumption that these are the stories the public will be most drawn to watch or read.
This ethos is wrong – both factually and ethically. And it’s lousy journalism. As journalists, our job is to give our audience an accurate picture – and that means the full picture – of what’s going on in the world. Just showing tragedy, violence, mayhem – focusing on what’s broken, and what’s not working – misses too much of what is happening all around us. What about how people are responding to these challenges, how they’re coming together – even in the midst of violence, poverty and loss? And what about all the other stories of innovation, creativity, ingenuity, compassion and grace? If we in the media only show the dark side, we’re failing at our jobs.

While we will continue to cover the stories of what's not working – political dysfunction, corruption, wrongdoing, etc. – as robustly as we always have, we want to show that the era of 'if it bleeds, it leads' is over, and start a positive contagion by relentlessly telling the stories of people and communities doing amazing things, overcoming great odds, and facing real challenges with perseverance, creativity, and grace. As the No. 1 social publisher on Facebook, we’ve learned these are the stories our readers are most interested in reading and sharing. We challenge USC Annenberg students to use this lens to shape your own coverage, reporting positive, uplifting and solutions-based stories about what is working. We want you to apply the same reportorial rigor, substance and creativity to good news as you do to all your best reporting.  And when you do, we want to feature your work. 

Throughout the Spring semester, HuffPost editors will work with you, helping you identify and shape these kinds of stories – and helping to frame them for maximum impact online. We will crosspost your best work in multimedia formats across all of our platforms.”

Willow Bay, Director of the School of Journalism and Senior Editor at The Huffington Post:

“The What’s Working Challenge offers you an opportunity to broaden the range of stories you cover – and the chance to have your work published on The Huffington Post by producing high-caliber, ethical and intellectually rigorous journalism in the public interest. We want you to change the world with your journalism – but also to change the world of journalism. This is your opportunity to do both.”

Stories will be produced via USC Annenberg’s news sites: Neon Tommy, Annenberg Radio News, Annenberg TV News, Intersections and USC Impact. In the new Wallis Annenberg Hall, students run these organizations – along with the public relations operations – from the converged Media Center, a newsroom that fully converges audio, video and text production for delivery on all platforms.

The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism enrolls more than 2,400 students and just launched a nine-month Journalism M.S. All communication and journalism students are invited to take on The Huffington Post news challenge.

Get started:

Submissions will be reviewed by faculty advisers Alan Mittelstaedt and Stacy Scholder. Send your queries – story pitches, new stories and newly published stories – to