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.
- Students will examine what makes for strong media mission statements.
- Students will explore and critique mission statements to prepare for creating their own.
- Students will develop a mission statement for their student media and be able to explain their decision-making.
Common Core State Standards
|CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1||Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.|
|Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).|
|Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.|
|Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.|
Blackboard or whiteboard
Teacher laptop and digital projector
Internet access and student computers if available
Resource: How to write a mission statement
Slideshow: Mission Statement
Handout: Mission Statement Notes
Assessment: Creating a Mission Statement
PRIOR TO LESSON
Assign students to read and take notes on the following articles using the Mission Statement Notes handout. Ask them to follow the QQC format by noting at least 3 questions, meaningful quotations, or comments for each article below:
- Working as a group to define a mission that matters
- Build a strong foundation by locking in pieces of the puzzle called journalism.
1. Warm up—10 minutes
The teacher or media editors who lead the class should ask what comes to student minds when they hear the phrase “mission statements?” Ask students to quickly share their impressions verbally. They can reference their notes from the readings, ask questions, or bring up comments or quotations from what they read. Explain to students they will first examine what experts say a mission statement is and what it should contain. Point out the mission statement is the basis for deciding which forum statement most accurately reflects the mission of student media and creates a framework for development of an editorial policy.
2. Elements of a mission statement—30 minutes
With the class, show and discuss the Mission Statement slideshow. Focus on key points (some examples are noted):
- Standards or guidelines for audience engagement (audience comments and crowdsourcing, diversity in interviewing)
- Journalistic responsibility (accuracy, thoroughness, integrity and credibility)
- Additional reporting basics (multiple sources, verification, background and context)
- Ethical reporting and editing (fact checking, context, multiple sourcing, emphasis on truth)
- Student-determined content (no censorship, designated public forum, civic engagement)
- Diversity in ideas and representation (open forum, diversity in content, reporters, voices)
- Platform consistency (using the best platform that best tells the story, creative yet focused)
- Connection to the school’s mission statement (school missions often contain phrasing similar to what serves journalistic mission)
Work with students about what each point means to their student media. What is important to mention in the mission statement? Are other ideas better for the staff policy manual?
3. Drafting mission statements—40 minutes
After the slideshow, ask students to make small groups of four or five. Students should have their Mission Statement Notes and thoughts from the warm up to help them with this part. Students will use these to draft a mission statement for student media. They can refer to the model in the slideshow if needed. After 30 minutes students should have a solid statement. Use the remaining time to edit, review and compare.
Points they should focus on and include:
- What they see as important in what their student media does and stands for
- Keeping the language simple and active, without clichés
- Keeping the statement short
4. Sharing and coming to consensus—20 minutes
Groups will share their draft mission statements with the class during a roundtable session. Explain to students that the class will come to consensus on the best statement, or they can take parts from different statements to create a single statement they like best. Work together (perhaps having a student type into a Google doc that is shown via a projector for the class to follow the edits and revisions together).
Note: This lesson may be taught in connection with Editorial Policy and Forum lessons.
Use the assessment form to evaluate the students’ mission statements.
Students might post their mission statements to a Google doc for others to comment on. This could be useful if other sections took more time.