The Harriton Banner Mission Statement
Introduction: To be effective at communication, we need to define two terms, often confused with each other: these terms are power and authority. Power and authority are often naively defined as having control over others. Power, however, has nothing to do with others. Power is defined as the control that we exercise over ourselves. Power is granted to us by virtue of the fact that we are human beings and deserve respect. If one tries to exercise power over another, this is very unhealthy and is really about trying to control another. Authority, on the other hand, is about relationships and is granted by social structure, and therefore comes with a great deal of responsibility. In its healthiest form, authority is a partnership in which all people involved understand their roles and through that partnership live a productive life. The Harriton Banner exercises no power but is granted authority by the school district and community that it serves. The paper also is granted authority by various Supreme Court rulings on freedom of the press. With this heavy authority comes heavy responsibility.
Teaming and Collaboration: When a newspaper has news to report, it needs to understand the partnerships of all of those involved in the community. The authority to report stays in the hands of the publisher, but community partners need to be fairly consulted so that all views are reported and the timing and method of the report is deemed fair.
Interpersonal Skills: It is the responsibility for a newspaper to fully understand the emotions and behaviors of the community that it serves as a result of a particular article. There are cases where newspapers decline to run a story because the impact will be so negative, that the positive purpose of the story will be lost.
Personal Responsibility: A newspaper must take responsibility regarding legal and ethical issues raised by a report or story. The goal of this responsibility is to achieve balance within the community and ensure that the impact of a story is fair, productive, and legal.
Social and Civic Responsibility: The ultimate purpose and responsibility of a newspaper is to promote the public good.
Interactive Communication: A newspaper should be aware of the many sources that are available and the many voices that need to be heard in any community.
Finally, some stories will create a great deal of discomfort: Once the story has stood the test of the responsibilities identified above; and the story is deemed ethical, productive, and legal; and it takes into account an understanding of the community being served; it is the responsibility of that newspaper to publish the story.
This mission statement borrows from the 1991 US Department of Labor report on skills needed for successful and effective communication. The report identifies five areas of focus that are of great concern to any newspaper.