10 Questions for the Journalism Entrepreneurship Evangelist

There are at least 10 questions or concerns one might anticipate as he or she launches a journalism entrepreneurship course or program. I pose these as I begin this week the Scripps-Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute.

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phoenixfilingsWe’re on the eve of the second Scripps-Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute at Arizona State University.
I’m excited to be among the more than a dozen journalism faculty from around the country who are participating in what I know will be an outstanding learning experience.

This is the second in a series of posts I’ve dubbed “Phoenix Filings” related to that Institute and the incredible opportunity to spend a few days in the Southwestern United States.  In a post yesterday, I set up this experience with five goals I have for the trip.

Today, we’ll talk more concretely about the business at hand– preparing to launch a course in entrepreneurial journalism.

Judging from the members of the inaugural class of Entrepreneurship Institute Fellows,  there is a growing number of journalism professors who GET IT!  They realize that forward-looking journalism programs have to incorporate as much “business” and “innovation” in their curriculum as writing, editing and media production.

A Personal Note
Journalism entrepreneurship brings together the two things in my professional background that always intrigued me– journalism and business.    As an undergraduate news editorial journalism major at Howard University about 20 years ago, I took 18 hours of coursework in the “School of B” (That would be the School of Business) because I always wanted to own a media outlet.

Today it’s not necessarily about buying and selling so-called “legacy” media properties (i.e. radio stations, television stations or newspapers), but innovating and creating new models for how media and journalism are done.
The weird thing about all of this is that I don’t have a track record to bring to the journalism classroom on this.   At least, not at this very moment.   As a media management researcher and teacher, I’ve focused primarily on facilitating students to do what I did as a mid-level manager in newsrooms, to understand the business imperative behind what we produce and seek out the best leaders to accomplish the organization’s goals.

“Journalism entrepreneurship” is a new concept for lots of folks.   The term will prompt questions from both our students and our fellow journalism/mass communication faculty.

Here are just a few that I am already anticipating even before I prepare the course syllabus:

QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS

  1. “I didn’t get into journalism to fail.”   Wouldn’t it be easier to just work for another news outlet?
  2. “I’m a journalist because I want to make a difference, not run a business. “
  3. “Is there a journalist in 2012 who can just write and not have to worry about paying for his/her product?  I want to take that class.”
  4. “What about that line between business and editorial? Is it completely gone?”
  5. “Some of the journalism I’m producing may make potential investors angry.  Then, what do I do?”

    AND THE QUESTIONS FROM OUR FELLOW JOURNALISM PROFESSORS

  6. “Journalism educators now have to learn something else new– new business start-up skills?  Really?”
  7. “So, the j-school has to get in bed with those folks in the business school?  How again, is that going to work?”
  8. “Students aren’t signing up for the entrepreneurship class because it’s not required.   They want an easy elective, which entrepreneurship is not.”
  9. “Journalism entrepreneurship” is a great buzzword.  But, we as journalism educators need some real dollars to incentivize innovation.
  10. “Where exactly is the academic research in this thing called journalism entrepreneurship?   Does this extend our research mission?”

So, along with networking with the dozen or so other journalism professors who are introducing journalism entrepreneurship at their schools,  this week for me is about having good responses to questions like the 10 listed here.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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