Lenfest Local Lab

A review of 10 mission statements from community-centered news organizations whose work is rooted in equity

The Lenfest Local Lab team took a step back and reflected on how trusted community news organizations define values of equity and representation in their work and culture

By Ana Graciela Méndez

August 4, 2022

The Lenfest Local Lab @ The Inquirer and the Brown Institute for Media Innovation built an automated approach to identifying and mapping locations found in local news stories in order to assist journalistic organizations in analyzing the geographic equity of their coverage. The Philadelphia Inquirer was the first newsroom to use this technology.

During this project, our team discussed ways that representation, equity, inequity, inclusion, exclusion, and diversity can show up in local news reporting and in the values of an organization, in order to develop a baseline understanding of what we were trying to achieve by making our tool available to news organizations.

In order to deepen our understanding of the ways in which news organizations can mitigate harm and better serve communities, we reviewed the mission statements and work of news organizations that are widely trusted by readers and serve communities that have not always been reached by legacy news organizations.

A key takeaway from our review of these organizations’ mission statements, along with other community work, is that newsrooms that are explicitly built to serve marginalized communities have identified and articulated the factors that have led to systemic exclusion and harm in coverage in their statements. They are actively attempting to dismantle harmful practices, too.

Below we are sharing a compilation of these mission statements as a reference for other teams who might also be seeking to reflect on and learn from mission statements published by news organizations who have written principles of equity and representation into the statements that define and guide their work.

Mission statements

URL Media: We’re building a decentralized, multi-platform network of high-performing Black and Brown media organizations. We’ll share content, distribution, and other resources to enhance reach, expand revenue and build long-term sustainability.

Scalawag: Through journalism and storytelling, Scalawag works in solidarity with oppressed communities in the South to disrupt and shift the narratives that keep power and wealth in the hands of the few. Collectively, we pursue a more liberated South.

G-Town Radio: Our mission is to be an exceptional outlet for local content, community news, and a diverse spectrum of music. We strive to broadcast sounds, ideas, and talk not found in mainstream media. It is our belief that a strong community is one that offers a platform for neighbors, community members and listeners to share news and generate discussion on topics that impact our neighborhood, our city and the world.

Germantown Info Hub: The Germanton Info Hub is a community journalism project that seeks to share information and stories of and for residents of Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhoods. We are a collaboration between a community advisory group, researchers and student journalists at Temple University and Jefferson University, community outreach specialists and volunteers, and media partners. Over the course of the project we have worked with WHYY, Resolve, Philadelphia, Free Press News Voices, G-Town Radio, East Falls Local, and others.

Kensington Voice: Our mission as a newsroom is to cover the Kensington-area with empathy and thoughtfulness while also creating journalism that is for the community, not just about the community. We want Kensington Voice to be a platform for residents to reclaim their neighborhood’s narrative and voice their concerns.

El Tímpano: El Tímpano works in collaboration with Oakland residents and community partners to create empowering, two-way channels of information.

El Tímpano’s methods of civic engagement include a community microphone that travels the streets, libraries, churches, and laundromats of East Oakland to gather residents’ stories on pressing issues, and an SMS-based reporting platform to provide timely information and facilitate conversation. Through these and other innovative, community-driven approaches that leverage the tools, experiences, and assets of Oakland’s Latino immigrants, El Tímpano seeks to foster civic engagement and political empowerment while building more inclusive local media.

City Bureau: City Bureau is a journalism lab reimagining local media. We do this by equipping people with skills and resources, engaging in critical public conversations and producing information that directly addresses people’s needs.

Drawing from our work in Chicago, we aim to equip every community with the tools it needs to eliminate information inequity to further liberation, justice and self-determination.

Documented: Documented is a non-profit news site devoted solely to covering New York City’s immigrants and the policies that affect their lives.

We provide original reporting on the ground-level impact of shifts in labor policy, law-enforcement practices and bureaucratic requirements, and on the effects of new federal directives. And we’ll keep you updated on the most important news from elsewhere.

Critical to our mission is ensuring we break the cycle of extractive immigration reporting, for that reason we rely heavily on listening to New York’s immigrant communities. Their insights inform our work and we create journalism in response to their needs.

Prism: Prism is a BIPOC-led non-profit news outlet that centers the people, places, and issues currently underreported by national media. We’re committed to producing the kind of journalism that treats Black, Indigenous, and people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other invisibilized groups as the experts on our own lived experiences, our resilience, and our fights for justice.

Capital B: (This organization had not launched when we did this work. This statement does not reflect their updated messaging since launch.) Capital B will equip Black Americans with accessible, accurate, and need-to-know reporting.

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