A Handbook About Entrepreneurial Journalism

Between 2016–2018 I was a mentor with “Div-A”, a project by the Council of Europe that helped media startups come to life. One of the projects assigned to me was the “The Regional Editors’ Network” run by the Arkbound Foundation in Bristol, UK. To bring the project to life I worked together for one year with Steve Mcnaught, coordinator at the Arkbound Foundation, meeting in different parts of Europe while attending conferences and working with the rest of the team preparing pitch-decks, planning strategies, trying to discover potential sources of revenue and preparing funding applications. All these led to a successful crowdfunder that in less than four weeks managed to raise £8,250 — including journalism workshops, the setup for a new charitable organisation to help deliver the project, and strategic partnerships.

The Regional Editors’ Network is a means by which aspiring journalists from disadvantaged backgrounds can be equipped with the skills, tools and resources to enter the media industry and start their own journalism outlets. Through mentoring with experienced journalists, along with workshops and online support, the network can empower those from traditionally excluded backgrounds to convey their stories and create avenues in which they can be heard. The project addresses the lack of diversity and plurality in the British media, whilst creating opportunities to a new generation of journalists.

When I asked Steve if the Diversity Accelerator programme helped him he noted:-

“The Div-A project was essential in that it shared the knowledge and experience of people who had started their own successful media outlets with those who were looking to undertake a similar journey. Not only did it result in productive mentoring, but it also linked up different organisations that sparked fresh ideas and perspectives. The ability to travel and meet with these organisations, to see how they did things in practice, and to attend the Perugia Festival of Journalism, was highly valuable.”
The team in Lisbon during the Web-Summit in 2017.

Among all these, Steve managed to bring together everything he learned during the program in a Journalism Handbook for Media Entrepreneurs published by the Arkbound Foundation. It includes contributions from journalists and leading organisations across the world, and is aimed at supporting people who are traditionally excluded from journalism to start their very own outlets. Steve tells me:

“Currently, people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds face disproportionate obstacles to join the media industry and get into journalism. On top of that, the rapidly growing digital sphere offers fresh opportunities for people to start their own sustainable outlets, rather than relying upon the inevitable power pyramids of traditional print.”

Because of the broken business models in journalism and due to the technological advances, journalism is rapidly changing, and will continue to change. But how can journalists bring accurate, relevant and up to date news to their audiences? The answers are multi-faceted and require understanding many different areas. Mcnaught believes that:

“Neglecting to consider how good journalism can be sustained is something modern journalists can no longer afford to do.”

And now we need independent journalism more than ever. Journalism, at its best, shines a light in dark places: holding the powerful to account, dispelling stereotypes, informing and educating people. At its worse it does the opposite: acting as a pawn to the powerful, a tool of propaganda, reinforcing negative stereotypes and generally misinforming the public. Democratic society needs good, independent journalism as equally as it needs a decent education system. Without a properly informed and educated electorate, democracy might as well collapse into dictatorship. From the time of the printing press to the emergence of the internet, independent journalism has shaped the world — challenging injustice, sparking new ideas, creating new opportunities and insights. It is the duty of independent journalists to ensure it continues to do that, and to fight against the more negative currents that have swamped much of the legacy media and the internet.

In these days of shifting uncertainty, where the place and methodologies of journalism is constantly contested, the Regional Editor Network and the Handbook seems a great way to achieve such aims.

You can find A Journalism Handbook for Media Entrepreneurs here.