Journalism is a tricky – and risky – business. Knowing how to research, write (or visually create) and package stories for audiences across print and digital is not enough. Students need to know how their journalistic enterprises can money – and publishing companies prize such skills. Young innovative thinkers are always in demand.
So I created a module in entrepreneurship to be delivered across all the journalism masters programmes– around 170 students. Entrepreneurial Journalism (now renamed Innovation Journalism) was launched in 2011. Getting students, who want to spend their careers breaking stories, reporting from the front line or writing magazine features, to think how that could be profitable was a challenge – and still is. Students were broken into groups of five or six, mixing up the courses (magazine, newspaper, interactive, broadcast, television, finance and science), and asked to create new media start-ups, which they would pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs at the end of the year – a bit like Dragon’s Den.
There were lectures and guest speakers, but the real learning took place in two networking evenings (complete with wine, beer and nibbles), with around a dozen entrepreneurs coming in and giving the students feedback on their concepts. Every year the students create extraordinary, workable concepts, pitched enthusiastically, and backed up with business plans and financial projections.
On the MA Magazine Journalism programme, which I run, we have taken this a step further and forged a link with Bauer Media http://www.ppa.co.uk/news/industry/2014/06/bauer-media-and-city-university-team-up-for-creative-thinking-project/
In the Creative Thinking Project, which took place in June, our students were privileged to be mentored by some of the company’s most senior executives. The team which created and pitched the strongest idea editorially and commercially – judged by a panel, which included the company’s MD Abby Carvosso – were given internships and the chance to develop their idea further.
Links like this can only benefit journalism education. The disruption caused by digital technology is fast closing traditional revenue streams (advertising, cover price) but opening exciting new ones –of which our journalism students need to be aware and embrace.