Points to avoid in mission statements
Part 3 of a series on pieces of the journalism puzzle: mission pieces to omit
by John Bowen
As with any guiding statement, unclear, undefineable or imprecise wording can lead to misinterpretation of intended principles.
Thus, we would suggest mission statements do not include these terms:
- Entertain(ment). To make this a major point of your mission in some ways limits expectations of what you can be. Engagement suggests audience involvement in more ways than just entertainment, as do other points, and is a much safer term to use.
- Responsible (without explanation to what). The question here is responsible to whom and for what. School officials historically have a different definition than journalists do for what is responsible. If you have to use it, specify what journalistic responsibilities you hold essential.
- Accountable (without explanation to what or who). This parallels responsible. Accountability can be and is important, but it also has to be paired with other points. For example, being accountable for the truth as best you can find it and for accuracy is different than just being accountable for mistakes.
- Excellence (without explanation to what). Excellence is a term we debated quite a bit. What excellence is and how it is determined, the committee decided, is included in other, more specific, principles.
Part 1: Build a strong foundation
Part 2: Careful preparation creates strong mission statements
Part 4: Fitting the pieces into a strong Foundation