SPJ Madison: Learn how to write your own ‘mission statement’ to guide your reporting

MADISON — In 2019, Megan Garvey led the dozens of reporters in her Southern California newsroom as they, for the first time, set explicit “missions” for their beats

On Wednesday, July 28, at a free virtual training session hosted by SPJ Madison, Garvey — now the executive editor at Southern California Public Radio and LAist — will explain how and why her team took on that challenge, and how those mission statements have changed how they decide what to cover. There will also be plenty of time for questions from those considering adapting the model to their newsrooms.

The session is the second in a series of diversity, equity and inclusion programming that SPJ Madison is hosting this year to help reporters and editors rethink how they approach their beats. 

The online discussion will run from 12 to 1 p.m. Central Time and is open to journalists and journalism students anywhere. Click here to register.

As a newsroom of just 65 (and growing) covering a region of more than 13 million people, the journalists of public radio station KPCC and its accompanying news website LAist know they can’t cover every news development. That’s why the outlet chose to create a mission to guide all of its reporting and to help reporters craft mission statements or guiding questions that would steer them through the barrage of daily developments. 

The goal, Garvey wrote in a web post describing the project to the public, was to help reporters “spend as much of their time as possible on original stories (and not get stuck echoing information that everyone else is reporting.)”

Today, the reporters’ mission statements appear in their online bios, allowing readers to see at a glance what’s driving their reporting and to ask questions accordingly. And the effort has been recognized as “especially successful” by Trusting News, a project that helps journalists demonstrate credibility and build trust.

Those interested in attending can register for the free event here. Registration closes on Monday, July 26 at 5 p.m. CT. 

Questions? Email spjmadisononline@gmail.com.