Trust me. Everyone doesn’t believe that entrepreneurial journalism should be a focus in our journalism and communication programs. In Toward 2020: The Big Sellout, A critical snapshot of the rise of entrepreneurial journalism, Ryerson University scholars question the focus on boosting commercialism to save journalism by creating new products and hooks to get consumers and dive into their wallets.
I couldn’t agree more.
And that’s not what I’m doing.
Nor is that the mindset or practice of many of the colleagues I’ve worked with over the years diving into the skills and knowledge we might be teaching as part of this new curriculum. The urgency, for many, continues to be re-invention of the communication practices, systems, products, services and infrastructure to serve a more inclusive citizenry. That what we seek is more about building the entrepreneurial mindset — scanning the environment, listening for needs and opportunity, creating, testing and failing — to test and imagine better.
From these early conversations (Ferrier, 2012), we defined the skills and knowledge needed to build this entrepreneurial mindset:
- Construct and deliver a pitch
- Conduct market research
- Conduct audience analysis
- Understand the entrepreneurial landscape/startup culture: key players, new products, delivery innovations, technological disruptions, financial options.
- Conduct a competitive analysis
- Create a minimum viable product (a wireframe, prototype)
- Read, understand and create financial statements
- Understand basic pros and cons of different types of startup capital
- Understand legal and regulatory framework for their business (their class project)
- Differentiate between an idea and an opportunity; clearly state a value proposition
- Conceive and develop an idea
- Develop a business plan
Nothing in this list suggests building new revenue streams to save journalism. What it does provide is a guide to helping students see beyond today to imagine something different. So we’ve focused on helping educators understand the why of curriculum change…to help create innovators and leaders.
So the first challenge to building out the innovation spaces at your own institutions involve creating buy-in of colleagues right in your own discipline. The following chart looks at internal supports necessary to build the media entrepreneurship ecosystem:
The chart begins to tease out the various motivations and drivers for each of the internal stakeholders for your class, competition, degree program or new partnership. And helps make the case for teaching students resiliency, failure, curiosity, listening, and imagining better.
Dr. Michelle Ferrier is an associate professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She is the editor of Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship open textbook and founder of TrollBusters. Follow her on Twitter at @mediaghosts and the Facebook Media Entrepreneurship group.