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JA Interview: Building a pipeline for minority journalist entrepreneurs

December 14, 2012 in Blog, Education

New U Logo

Journalism Accelerator

Doug Mitchell brings ideas to angels. He is co-director of the UNITY New U Entrepreneur Fellowship program. Funded by the Ford Foundation, the program aims to help minority journalists get the business training, support and connections they need to launch businesses. The initiative offers $10,000 grants, training and mentorships.

Last year, New U launched a new partnership with the National Minority Angel Network to provide fellows further mentoring and pitch opportunities.

The JA’s Emily Harris talked with Doug about the business landscape minority journalists face, the particulars of this journalism business training program and how to get involved in 2013. The interview has been edited for clarity and length. Read the rest of this entry →

JA resource collection designed to fuel your business success

November 29, 2012 in Blog, Education

Journalism Accelerator Tag Cloud

A section of the tag cloud from JA's resource index, offering a quick way to source information you need.

Journalism Accelerator

Today’s news market finds many publishers overwhelmed by information, tools and apps, with few ways to learn which may hold the most value, be simple to use or bring your business the greatest return. To help news providers search more efficiently across information networks, the JA curates resources with practical value or proven success.

Organized in an easy-access index, this resource collection is designed to help journalists, publishers and others who are looking to find new, sustainable ways to do business. Since launching 15 months ago, the collection has grown to more than 300 listings pulled from scores of sources. Here we offer a quick tour of what you can expect to find in a JA resource listing, explaining how we select and present resources so you can get the most out of them. Read the rest of this entry →

Community Journalism Executive Training: Define your exit to build a legacy

November 9, 2012 in Blog, Education, Revenue

A huge experiment


CJET brought more than thirty community and investigative publishers together for intensive, hands-on business training. Check out presentations and resources that emerged, download useful know-how.

Journalism Accelerator

It felt odd to consider “exit strategy” at the recent Community Journalism Executive Training program, which brought nearly three dozen news organizations to Los Angeles for two days of intense, hands-on work developing specific business strategies and action plans.

After all, the vast majority of organizations attending only opened their doors a few years ago.

But the training, funded by the Knight Foundation, The Patterson Foundation and the McCormick Foundation, hosted by the Knight Digital Media Center and organized by the Investigative News Network, aimed to equip people running startup community and investigative media outlets with the skills and attitude to pull their business-owner hats firmly down on their heads – and wear them all the time.

And that means thinking about exit strategy. Read the rest of this entry →

JA publisher profile with ProPublica’s Stephen Engelberg: “This may shake out to be a Golden Age of investigative reporting.”

August 10, 2012 in Blog, Community, Craft, Distribution, Education, Experiments, Policy, Revenue, Technology

Stephen Engelberg

ProPublica managing editor Stephen Engelberg at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center. Image: Lisa Skube.

Journalism Accelerator

Raising money, gaining audience, having impact. Despite a ten million dollar annual budget, 34 reporters and partnerships with multiple major news organizations, ProPublica faces similar sustainability issues as many startup publishers. ProPublica’s managing editor (set to become editor-in-chief early next year) Stephen Engelberg spoke with a couple dozen journalists at the University of Oregon’s Turnbull Center in Portland this week. Here are his views on some of the major challenges investigative, nonprofit news organizations face today.

Stephen Engelberg had never done any fundraising before becoming second-in-command at ProPublica, the high-profile, nonprofit, investigative news organization set up in 2007. He didn’t have to right away; for the first three years ProPublica received ten million dollars a year from a foundation set up by Herb and Marion Sandler with their earnings from the savings and loan industry. ProPublica’s budget has remained the same, but the Sandler Foundation share fell to half last year. As Engelberg prepares to lead the first online-only news organization to win a Pulitzer Prize, money, branding, the expectations of donors and making an impact are on his mind. Read the rest of this entry →

Common Language Project’s Jessica Partnow on Teaching Entrepreneurship

April 20, 2011 in Blog, Craft, Education, Interview, Revenue

Jessica Partnow

Jessica Partnow

An interview with Common Language Project’s Jessica Partnow by JA’s Tram Whitehurst.

Jessica Partnow is the executive director of the Common Language Project, a nonprofit multi media journalism organization, where she reports and leads administration and organizational development.

“You hear the term entrepreneurial journalism and immediately think about money,” Partnow said. “But it is more about teaching the skills to be able to do everything in the process on your own.”

In addition to leading the Common Language Project, Partnow teaches a course on entrepreneurial journalism at the University of Washington.

Students learn to pitch story ideas, report for multimedia and use digital storytelling techniques, and work in teams to produce story packages published by news sources affiliated with Next Door Media, a network of hyperlocals in Seattle.

“They are really pushed to experiment,” Partnow said. “Students need to learn to trust themselves to follow something they think is interesting and are passionate about.”

Students get hands-on experience with new media technologies involving video, audio and other multimedia tools. Those skills are then easily transferable to other software platforms, Partnow said.

But she said it’s also important not to assume that just because the students are college age that they will intuitively understand the online world and new technologies.

“They do sometimes need to be taught even the most basic skills,” Partnow said. “Not everybody is blogging or posting videos to YouTube.”

And the most important discussion in the class is not even related to technology — it’s ethics.

“Journalists must be thinking about ethics even more when working outside the traditional media,” Partnow said. “They might not have the colleagues to bounce ideas off of and probably don’t have a team of lawyers behind them.”

Digital pioneer Robert Niles on teaching entrepreneurship

March 28, 2011 in Blog, Education, Interview

Robert Niles

Robert Niles

An interview with digital pioneer Robert Niles by JA’s Tram Whitehurst

Robert Niles founded and edits Theme Park Insider, an award-winning theme park news site. He also contributes to the Online Journalism Review and conducts trainings for journalists across the country.

What do you think entrepreneurship means when it comes to journalism? Where is the intersection between business and journalism for individual journalists?

“Entrepreneurship in journalism reduces to doing whatever needs to be done to raise the resources necessary to keep publishing. Typically, that means finding customers to write enough checks to pay for whoever’s doing the reporting and production of the publication.

This is the work that’s always been done by publishers. But as news organizations become smaller and smaller — and even individuals become entire publication staffs — that work’s now being done by people who also have editorial responsibilities.”

What are some of the most important entrepreneurial skills young journalists should be learning in order to prepare for the marketplace?

“Ultimately, entrepreneurship requires the ability to listen, to observe and to ask questions that elicit informed response. And those are the skills of a journalist. If you can report, you can be an entrepreneur. You simply must lose your fear of math and of responsibility for money though.

To be a successful entrepreneur you must be able to identify a “pain,” an unmet public need. Then you must develop or call upon the personal network that can help you identify resources and a medium through which to meet that need. Journalists work their sources for information all the time. It’s not that far to apply those skills to entrepreneurship.”

How should journalism schools go about teaching these skills?

Journalism schools need to bring in more people who’ve started information businesses, to spark conversations among those entrepreneurs, students and faculty. Don’t rely just on big names who’ve started big companies. Students need to hear from some of the many people who’ve launched and continue to run profitable sites on their own, or in very small partnerships. That’s where millions of people are getting their news these days.”

Do you know of any schools and/or journalists that are doing this particularly well?

“Well, USC’s doing a nice job with its news entrepreneur boot camps. (Yes, that was a shameless plug — I help organize those). Also, Arizona State and CUNY and NYU have established promising efforts to train journalists in entrepreneurial skills.”

Dan Gillmor on Teaching Entrepreneurship and the Startup Culture

March 28, 2011 in Blog, Education, Experiments, Interview, Type

Dan Gillmor

Dan Gillmor

An interview with Arizona State University’s Dan Gillmor by JA’s Tram Whitehurst

Dan Gillmor is the director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Founded in 2006, the digital media entrepreneurship program at the Cronkite School is built around two courses devoted to the development of new media entrepreneurship and the creation of innovative digital media products.

“It’s still a pretty experimental program,” Gillmor said. “The goal is to help students gain an appreciation of startup culture, of what goes into being an entrepreneur, and to provide lots of hands-on experience with technology and developing ideas.”

The introductory course, “Digital Media Entrepreneurship,” is part lecture and part lab. Students are given a “virtual sandbox” in which to experiment with things like podcasting, video, mapping, tagging, mashups, data-as-journalism and social media. “Off-the-shelf technology will get them 90 percent of the way,” Gillmor said. They also begin to develop and prototype a potential digital media product.

In the second course, “Advanced Projects in Digital Media Entrepreneurship”, student teams must see a project through from conception to launch.

“It’s important that they think through how it might be sustainable,” Gillmor said. One of his teams this semester is working on a project involving the Xbox Kinect.

Ultimately, Gillmor doesn’t think he can teach his students how to have an entrepreneurial mindset, but he does think he can help them to appreciate what startup culture is all about.

“We want them to understand what’s involved in entrepreneurship – it’s about owning a process, deeply ambiguous conditions that will remain that way, rapid development and iteration, and building things that will scale,” he said.

Gillmor also sees plenty of opportunity in the industry’s challenges.

“I think students in general need to understand that the clear path is largely gone,” he said. “But I tell students I’m jealous of them. They’re starting at a time of almost unlimited opportunity.”