Aha

IMG_0001    I had my aha moment today at the ONA 13 Conference in Atlanta.

I’m eight weeks into my research into Start-up Journalism. So far I’ve brain picked dozens of entrepreneurs, academics, students and journalists. I’ve pored over books, blogs, studies, reports.

I have a passion for this stuff. But it wasn’t until today that I chatted with many others who do too. I was among kindred spirits.

In a session called, Hack the Curriculum I found myself in a working group looking at how to build better Entrepreneurial Journalism programs. It included more than a dozen professors and media entrepreneurs from universities across the U.S. who already teach it.  I listened, absorbed.

Ann Grimes, former Wall Street Journal reporter now technology and entrepreneurship professor at Stanford was in the group. I sat beside Michelle Ferrier, Associate Dean for Innovation at Ohio University. At the end of the table was Mark Briggs – the guy from Seattle who literally wrote the book on Entrepreneurial Journalism.

Profs from the universities of Texas, North Carolina and Kansas were there. Belmont, American and Maryland universities were represented. All have courses or full degree programs in this cutting edge discipline. They shared best practices: starting accelerators and incubators; instilling business modeling skills; partnering with computer science and business faculties; prototyping; running competitions; connecting with investors; collaborating with the start-up community; encouraging innovation – but allowing failure.

I was the only person from Canada – let alone from a Canadian university.

My aha moment? I’m on the right track. I didn’t actually hear anything I didn’t already know something about. Rather this seminar legitimized my passion. This is a significant, actually vital, part of the present and future of journalism education.

One prof summed it up: entrepreneurial journalism is about instilling an attitude; it’s not the presumption that all who study it will create impressive corporations.

“The nice tidy path we used to send students down isn’t there anymore. We need to prep students so they can manage themselves as a business, as an entity. This isn’t just about coming up with the next Facebook. Students have to have this new attitude – I am a brand.”

Ann Grimes nodded. She added students can become entrepreneurs inside whatever organization he or she works in.

And I say, as educators, we have a responsibility to give journalism students the tools to do that.

I made contacts, got ideas and geeked out by hearing directly from people I’ve been reading about. For me, this session alone was worth the conference’s price of admission.

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One thought on “Aha

  1. Pingback: Books enterprising Journalists should read: | Start-up Journalism Project

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