The Journey Begins! Meet Our 2018 Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism Fellows

Our eighth cohort at CUNY J-School is developing new startup journalism ventures and exploring new business models for news. Here we go!

The 2018 Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism Fellows at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. (Not pictured: Tassos Morfis) Photo by Skyler Reid

Over the next four months, our 12 Tow-Knight entrepreneurial journalism fellows will develop ideas into living projects. In their applications, each identified a problem or opportunity to focus on and shared preliminary ideas. For every six high-quality candidates who applied from around the world, we selected one. They arrived at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism on a cold day in late January. They’ll complete their work with us on a (hopefully) warmer day in May. As the 2018 fellows progress through the semester, they’ll share periodic updates on their projects, as will I.

In the early days of the term, the fellows are interviewing people and studying the landscape of opportunity in their areas of interest. As they progress through their market research, customer discovery and design thinking, they’ll develop hypotheses and build prototypes to test their ideas. Ultimately, the fellows will all develop products/services and business models to serve communities sustainably. Here are a few of the questions the fellows will be considering (these are my framing of the questions—they’ll be posting about these issues in their own words in the days and weeks to come).

  • What assumptions about the distribution of science explainers might we reconsider? As a veteran of the Associated Press, Alicia Chang brings an open mind to questions about expanding the impact of science journalism.
  • How might new forms of journalism help bridge the U.S. partisan political gulf? Alex Eggerking, an Australian, brings a fresh international perspective, in addition to experience as a podcast producer and a lawyer.
  • What might the next iteration of citizen journalism look like in Japan? Hisashi Ayuzawa is learning from past citizen journalism experiments. In between climbing some of the world’s tallest mountains, Hisashi has served in in both business and editorial roles at the Asahi Shimbun.
  • How might quality storytelling shed new light on life in China?
    Colum Murphy sees the potential for storytelling to help those outside of China better understand its culture and people. A multilingual reporter and editor with substantial experience working in China and Japan, he recently drove 5,500 across China over five weeks, telling the stories of communities he encountered along the way.

If the experience of more than 100 past fellows is a predictor of what happens this term, it’s likely that many of the fellows will see their ideas twist and turn as the semester progresses. Some will return afterwards to news organizations to help develop innovative new products, while others will complete the program with products and services that flourish in the months and years afterwards. In a subsequent post, I’ll share updates on some of the ventures that have emerged from our program in recent years. For now, you can read a bit more about our current fellows below.

Read brief intro profiles of fellows below, written by their peers: