Thinking of crafting your own “where I’m coming from” statement? You’ll need some way to get started. Here is a list of starter questions provided by Studio 20 director Jay Rosen.
An important qualification. In no way does “where I’m coming from” (as a journalist) require you to expose parts of yourself that you would rather keep private. Nor does it mean that you must reveal your political ideology, and whether you voted for Trump or Bolsonaro or Alberto Fernández. You can talk about these things, but you do not have to.
Questions to ask yourself. None of these is required in a Coming From statement. But any of them could help, and get you thinking in the right direction. Pick the ones that work for you. Drop the ones that don’t.
- As a careful reader, listener, viewer — or user — of your work in journalism, what should I know about you?
- What should I keep in mind about you as I experience and interact with your work?
- What are the beliefs about the world that lie behind your work in journalism?
- From what traditions do you come? (For example, I come from the tradition of Jewish intellectuals in New York.)
- What is the culture you come from and what (if anything…) does it have to say about good journalism?
- What traditions in journalism do you feel part of, or come from? (For example, in my new post I said that ProPublica.org was clearly coming from “the long history of progressive reform in the U.S., especially the chapter called Muckraking, of which investigative journalists Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens, and the publisher S.S. McClure were early exemplars.”)
- What are your foundational beliefs as a journalist or as an aspiring innovator in journalism? (One of mine is: the more people who participate in journalism, the stronger the press will be.)
- What motivates you to seek change in journalism or contribute to the survival of the public service press?
- Who have been your biggest influences in journalism— your heroes?
- What are the pleasures, joys, delights or satisfactions you get from doing or studying journalism?
- What kind of impact do you think good journalism should have, or do you want yours to have?
- What are the fascinations that drove you into journalism— if any did?
- Same question, different keyword: What are the fears that drove you into journalism?
- What have been your most formative experiences in journalism? (The events that shaped you…)
- Complete this sentence: As a journalist or proponent of innovation, I am the child of…
- Is there a story you can tell us that will demonstrate where you are coming from?
We hope your experience with ComingFrom.org will inspire you to rethink the practice of transparency in journalism. Have you crafted your own Coming From statement? We’d love to hear from you.