Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Digital media: Amusing ourselves to death?

Gencarelli, Manhattan College Photo
Versión en español

Communications professors at Tec of Monterrey had a visitor last week, Thom Gencarelli of Manhattan College, who made us think about what we are teaching and how we are doing it.

Among the questions he left us with:
  • In 1985, Neil Postman wrote that the dominant media of a culture in fact shapes the culture, is the culture (Amusing Ourselves to Death). In his day, Postman saw television as degrading all aspects of culture -- religion, literature, education, politics -- to a form of visual entertainment. So how are digital media defining and shaping our culture today? he asked. Are they degrading or improving it?
  • Do the immediacy, urgency, and visual nature of digital media make us less capable of appreciating the culture of the written word? 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Demand for entrepreneurial journalism training is multilingual, international

One in six U.S. residents is of Hispanic or Latino origin. Half consume news in Spanish.
This post was prepared for sharing at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism Entrepreneurial Journalism Educators Summit July 10. Much of the material is drawn from previous blog posts. 


American universities are leaders in creating programs in entrepreneurial journalism. We could strengthen that position by reaching out to Hispanic communities in the U.S., which is one-sixth of the U.S. population (53 million). We could also learn from the many innovations among Spanish speakers in the Americas (418 million).

Potential benefits:

1. Universities could attract more students from Latin America interested in seeing some of the advances taking place in the dynamic U.S. media market.

2. U.S. students with Spanish skill could find opportunities in Hispanic media in the U.S., from the big operators like Univision and Impremedia to the hundreds of small radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and internet media.

3. U.S. students with sufficient language skill could find opportunities to work in Latin American media and study in the region's finest universities.

4. Professors in the U.S. could enrich their courses with examples from Latin America, where difficult political and economic conditions have led to innovation.

5. With a global focus, faculty and students could benefit from international exchanges and guest lectures via Skype, Hangouts, webinars, and other telecommunication aids.

6. Faculty exchanges. More universities around the world want courses taught in English. U.S. professors with specific expertise, such as multimedia and entrepreneurial journalism, are in demand.

Have I missed anything? (Special thanks to Jeremy Caplan, education director at the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY for suggestions on improving the usefulness of this post.)


Saturday, July 5, 2014

For digital startups, dealing with extreme uncertainty

Versión en español.

When you are starting out with a digital product, it makes sense to get advice from experts. But experts can't help you learn as much as you can on your own.

In fact, most of the successful digital entrepreneurs I know give the same advice: develop a prototype as quickly as possible. A business plan or a powerpoint is fine, but you need to put your actual product into the hands of the public and test your theories. See if they work.
Video with subtitles in English of six digital journalism entrepreneurs.

See also the comments of Olga Lucia Lozano, Daniel EilembergGonzalo Costa.
The thinking of these entrepreneurs has gotten its most eloquent expression in Eric Ries's book The Lean Startup. The idea is to save time and money on product development by introducing a  minimum viable product to the target customer, measuring response, making adjustments, and trying again. (Some examples for journalists are below.)