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Mission sets the path for content, decisions


Mission statement

What is it/definition: A mission statement is a concise, philosophical statement of purpose and goals for student media. It establishes the ethical and practical concepts by which the student media should be expected to operate and why students do what they do.


Important items of note: We strongly believe mission statements should be more than “to entertain and educate” as those points do not stress guiding the whys and whats of a mission.


Guideline: A mission statement defines your student media, shows your audience what’s important to you and helps them see why you do what you do. It’s not easy to write an effective one.Our model would look like this:

_____________ (school name) student media provide complete and accurate coverage, journalistically responsible, ethically gathered, edited and reported. Student-determined expression promotes democratic citizenship through public engagement diverse in both ideas and representation.

Student best practice: You need a mission statement, and we think ours is worth consideration. We also share some points to think about as you write your own or adapt what we offered:

  • Audience engagement.Think about the importance of getting your audience to think and hopefully to act. Your mission should be to create media to get and keep them involved.
  • Journalistic responsibility.Point out the basis of solid journalism you want as the very heart of your media: truth, integrity, completeness and accuracy.
  • Additional reporting basics. Make sure your audience knows it can trust you because you also offer context to put reporting in perspective, verification that shows you double-checked, coherence that ensures it makes sense and presents all relevant information.
  • Ethical reporting and editing. To complete the reporting process, present your work ethically and to professional standards for your audiences.
  • Student-determined content. It should make a difference to your audience that students are in charge and decide all content for your student media. It definitely makes a difference to courts, too.
  • Diversity of ideas and representation.It’s not just one clique that runs your student media. All voices contribute ideas and have representation in your media.
  • Platform consistency. It’s not a newspaper policy and a separate wbroadcasteb, yearbook or TV station policy. As all media providers realize they are connected and each telling a story in the best way possible, it’s important the school’s media share the same policies and ethical approaches.
  • School mission statement connection.It shouldn’t be surprising that school mission statements often mention the same points student media do: building thinking citizens, preparing students for democracy, etc. Tie parts of your media mission statement to those as well


Quick Tip:This information  is part of a four-part series designed to help students build mission states and shape them into workable parts of the Foundation concept.:

Part 1: Build a strong foundation

Part 2: Careful preparation creates strong mission statements

Part 3: Points to avoid in mission statements

Part 4: Fitting the pieces into a strong Foundation


Responsibility in scholastic media starts with ethics, accuracy, complete story:Administrators may want student media to depict the school in a positive light, that promotes good news and overlooks the negative.

Is this responsible journalism?
Empowering student decision-making
: The role of the adviser in student-run media incorporates teacher, coach, counselor, listener and devil’s advocate but not doer. We like theJEA Adviser Code of Ethicsas guides for advisers.That role means letting students make all decisions including content, context and grammar.

Quick Tips index   A list of nearly 70 journalism processes showing the interaction between every day journalistic processes and actions and ethical principles.




SPRC blogs

Policy and ethics sitemap:Learn what goes together ln a law and ethics Handbook. We think the policy section should come right after the mission statement since it sets the stage for all other areas. That choice remains yours.

Careful preparation creates strong mission statements: A mission statement defines your student media, shows your audience what’s important to you and helps them see why you do what you do.

Points to avoid in mission statementsAs with any guiding statement, unclear, undefinable or imprecise wording can lead to misinterpretation of intended principles. We suggest mission statements do not include these terms: 

Revisit your mission to empower scholastic journalists:Hopefully your publication has a mission statement as a key part of the editorial policies in your staff handbook. Even better, this mission statement is revisited and, if needed, revised at the start of each year.

Journalistic integrity guides scholastic media: As scholastic media advisers and students develop policies and guidelines to guide them with journalism standards, they should note these words: The only thing students have to lose as journalists is their credibility.

Free press––why students should make all decisions of content: For students to prepare themselves for their roles in a democracy, they must be able to practice guarantees of the First Amendment, knowing they can make a difference.

Second day concerns   It’s not the first day of school that has me worried. It’s the second.

St. Louis Park’s first day involves some get-to-know-you activity, but we start content on the second. And this is why I’m worried. With the summer of fake news and recent news of the events of Charlottesville, Virginia, I want my students to understand why what they do is so important. So, on the second day, we will revisit our mission statement.

SPLC resources:

Other resources:

JEA law/ethics curriculum:

Creating a Mission Statement for Student Media  Everyone has seen mission statements that contain “educate and entertain” as key goals for scholastic media. The purpose of this lesson is to create mission statements that go beyond generic wording. Instead, mission statements should help establish who student journalists are, their role, and their purpose. Establishing this framework will also shape audience understanding about media roles, purposes and identity, including the social responsibility role that even student journalists must uphold. This lesson works best when used before the Creating an Editorial Policy lesson and after the Mission Planning lessons.


Related Content: Foundation/ Staff Guidelines |Policy | Ethics | Staff Manual | Prior Review | Restraint | Censorship




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