Strong Coming From statements can take many forms, but they all have one thing in common: a “view from somewhere.” The ComingFrom.org collection builds on this idea by bringing together examples that showcase journalists being open about who they are, how they think and what they believe.
The NYU Studio 20 team has identified several categories, like financial transparency or political lean, that can inform a journalist’s approach in this arena. Our collection pinpoints the key elements of each example, providing a framework for the Coming From model and highlighting how such statements build trust through transparency.
Core Values and Beliefs
This kind of transparency is fairly common, even for media outlets that prescribe to a traditional view of journalistic objectivity. However, in a Coming From statement, an attestation of core values and beliefs is concrete, skipping platitudes in favor of substantive positions.
Many good examples of Coming From statements include a financial disclosure. This is not an indication that funders are exerting undue influence on anyone’s reporting. Rather, it’s a tool for readers, now fully informed about the flow of money, to make their own assessment of a journalist’s work.
In some cases, the way journalism is done is as important as the product itself. Journalists who focus on editorial process in their Coming From statements want readers to know not just the conclusions of their reporting, but how they approached a story from beginning to end. This practice can help prevent biases in story selection, sourcing and subject representation.
The label ‘journalism as advocacy’ is a death knell in most newsrooms. When framed as ‘having impact,’ the idea becomes palatable. Increasingly, journalists are opening up about their desire to affect real-world change, going so far as to define the issues they aim to improve.
Even in the realm of Coming From statements, an honest declaration of political beliefs is rare. But doing so has immense potential. Defining a newsroom’s lean eliminates opaque neutrality and equips the reader with a political lens through which to view and consider its journalism.
Particularly in institutional Coming From statements, knowing an organization’s origins can provide important historical context to understand where it stands today. This is more than corporate chronicling; an honest retrospective can reveal how a newsroom is structured, how it forms assumptions and ultimately how it produces journalism.
Every journalist is a person and every person has a story. As much as we try to separate personal from professional, the two worlds are inextricably linked. Showing vulnerability in a Coming From statement can go a long way toward building trust with readers and colleagues alike.