Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Columbia focuses on coaching journalism execs

Doug Smith
Executive Director
Punch Sulzberger Program
Sixth in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

Columbia Journalism School's Punch Sulzberger Program differs from other programs in this series in several ways. 

Like them, it is entrepreneurial in focusing on innovation and transforming of a media enterprise. But the biggest difference is that it focuses on changing the enterprise rather than on mainly developing skills of an individual.

The participant is supposed to recruit people within and outside the media enterprise (for-profit, non-profit, public) to drive measurable change. The success of any individual participant in the program is based on metrics of the enterprise. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dan Gillmor: We need more experiments on revenue side of media startups

Fifth in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

Dan Gillmor, Founding Director
Knight Center for Digital Media
Entrepreneurship, Arizona State U.
Dan Gillmor is recognized as an expert in new digital media, but when he teaches entrepreneurship, he has a broader vision than just media.

He sees media as one part of an entrepreneurial culture where people are creating thousands of new enterprises. He sees a society where people are participants and not just employees. "I don't think we can call ourselves literate unless we're creating stuff, not in the world we're in," he says. In other words, we are the media, and we are media-active, to play on the titles of two of his books.

He teaches at the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University. University journalism programs can play a part in creating a new media ecosystem to replace the one whose business model is collapsing, he says. But so can other university departments, training organizations, journalism nonprofits, traditional media, startups, and individuals with no credentials but with valuable experience to share. "My attitude is, the more people who want to be in the mix, the better."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How journalist built his brand from college dorm room

Brian Stelter
2012 Media Bistro photo
Brian Stelter is my favorite example of how a young person can create a personal brand and build it into a career. I have talked about him in presentations in Latin America and Europe and his story never fails to make an impression. 

When he was a freshman at Towson University in Maryland in 2004, he launched his CableNewser blog with news and commentary about the coverage of the Iraq War by CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. He soon attracted a loyal audience of influential TV industry executives. No one dreamed the blog was by a college student.

He eventually parlayed his blogging experience into a job covering media at the New York Times, but that is getting ahead of the story.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Online courses play bigger role in entrepreneurial journalism

Fourth in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations. 

The Poynter Institute's online training center, NewsU, is building out its offerings in entrepreneurial journalism with the goal of creating a certificate program. It is one of the few organizations doing this kind of training mainly online. 

Howard Finberg
Poynter Institute, NewsU
NewsU already has eight courses, webinars and training videos that fit under the entrepreneurial umbrella and plans on developing more. These training modules are focused on helping journalists and news organizations stay competitive as digital media change the nature of their work, says NewsU's founder, Howard Finberg

“We're training people along two tracks. We're reshaping the traditional mass media business model to be more entrepreneurial and independent of major corporations. We're also training journalists to be more self-sufficient. We're giving them the skills to work across disciplines in ways they didn't have to when we were in school. We're changing the organizational and economic approach to training the people who do journalism.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

In Mexico, innovative selection process for entrepreneurial journalism

Third in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations.

The University of Guadalajara in Mexico has just recruited a class of 18 students in its second year of offering an online master's degree in digital journalism.

Manuel Moreno Castaneda
Rector, Virtual University
University of Guadalajara
This may be the only master's degree program in the developing specialty of entrepreneurial journalism that is completely online. It is offered through the Virtual University (Sistema de Universidad Virtual), whose rector, Manuel Moreno Castaneda, is recognized internationally as an authority on distance learning.

The two-year, four-semester program has a design similar to programs at American University and the City University of New York, but it also has an innovative selection process.

Three-week selection course

Before being admitted, the applicants must propose a project to develop in new digital media. A preliminary selection of 35 applicants then must take a three-week online course in which they watch videos, read articles, complete assignments, and receive feedback from faculty about their proposal. They are then interviewed by telephone. Only the best from this preliminary group are accepted. (Disclosure: I helped design this program while director of the Digital Journalism Center, Centro de Formacion en Periodismo Digital, at the University.)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Road to entrepreneurial journalism passed through Bolivia

Martha Paz, Universidad
Evangelica Boliviana
My path to developing courses in entrepreneurial journalism began in 2006 in an unlikely place -- Bolivia, the poorest country in South America.

Bolivia historically was controlled by interest groups that crushed upstarts who tried to challenge their control of business and politics. Entrepreneurship? There is a word for it in Spanish, but people in Bolivia were not used to using it.

I was a Knight International Journalism Fellow training journalists at the major news organizations in that country. I was also developing a journalism course to offer at the country's oldest private university, the Universidad Evangelica Boliviana, well known for producing top journalists like Martha Paz. She had left the country's biggest daily to return to her alma mater and head the communication department.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

CUNY aims to incubate new media

Stephen Shepard, dean of CUNY
 Journalism School: "We are
 researching ways to support quality
as the old financial order erodes." 
Second in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations.

City University of New York's Entrepreneurial Journalism program aims to be an incubator of new media projects as well as training the next generation of digital journalists.

To that end the faculty research is aimed at helping entrepreneurs directly, as with its survey of 500 local businesses' the online presence and marketing needs; its students do apprenticeships at startups that need help solving a problem; and each student develops a capstone project that could be a business plan or new media prototype. 

In addition, the school hosts events where some of New York City's digital entrepreneurs can present their projects and get feedback. “We want to play a role in the community,” says Jeremy Caplan, director of education for the program. “We want to be a place where people will come and share their ideas.” 

Friday, January 18, 2013

At American U., media entrepreneurship includes NGOs

Jan Schaffer
First in a series on entrepreneurial journalism programs at universities and media organizations.

In the new world of media, traditional journalism organizations are just one more voice, and the MA in Media Entrepreneurship program at American University reflects that.

Jan Schaffer, who teaches the program's seminar on media entrepreneurship, believes that journalism schools should teach "information-gathering and truth-seeking skills to a broad array of future civic players.” That means new media could be non-governmental organizations and other nonprofits.

In praise of engineers and scientists: their failures are learning experiences

Apollo 13 engineers celebrate safe splashdown.
NASA photo, April 1970. NBC News via AP
Versión en español aquí.

Journalists who are starting their own digital media should learn to think more like engineers and scientists. For them, solving a problem involves repeated trial and error. They view each step not as a failure but as a learning experience.

Engineers and scientists were the heroes of "Apollo 13," both in the movie and in real life.  They searched frantically against the clock to find ways to keep the damaged spacecraft's crew alive and return them safely to Earth.

They had to improvise solutions with the imperfect tools on board the spacecraft and experiment with processes they had never tried before. They had a goal but they weren't sure how to get there. So they tried and failed and kept trying. 

There's never enough time or money

Like them, journalists working in a startup will not have the ideal tools at hand nor all the money and time in the world to perfect their web project. Many of the answers they need can be found only by getting their product into the hands of the intended audience. Test it on the audience. On the web, a new product is always in Beta.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online

Versión en español aquí.

Hundreds of websites are popping up to replace the community news coverage lost as daily newspapers cut staff and publish less frequently.

Many of them are started by the very reporters who have just been laid off or community organizers who want to hold public institutions accountable.

What these new media entrepreneurs have is a passion for news and community service. But most will not survive long-term because they have no clue about how to run a business or to find the financial resources to make the operation sustainable.

They might have a better chance, however, if they spent some time with Robert Niles's book How to Make Money Publishing Community News Online.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

You create more value with 'community' than 'audience'

Versión en español aquí.

When I teach entrepreneurial journalism, the first thing I emphasize is the need to create a community.

An audience is just a group of observers.  A community shares values and a deep interest in a topic or geographic area. It often has a bias toward action. That is where value comes in.

Connecting these people and creating value for them is the beginning of a community. Only when you have connected them can you begin to get their financial support.

Memberships, not paywalls; sponsorships, not ads

I was reminded of the power of community, as opposed to audience, when reading Martin Langeveld's post for Nieman Lab on what is ahead for journalism in 2013.