This is an open textbook, written by a journalism professor. The general subject is media innovation, and how media specialists can encourage and/or become an entrepreneur.
Hundreds of downsized journalists are watering community media deserts by launching hyperlocal news startups. Scores of statewide nonprofit news ventures are bringing back accountability journalism to state capitals. Startup founders are embracing single-topic niche sites, doing deep dives into climate change, health care, arts and culture, public education, and more. And, of course, venture capitalists have turned the likes of Vice, Vox and BuzzFeed into $1 billion-plus unicorns, so confident are they of a return on their investment. Of course, all of these initiatives not only need your journalistic skills, they also need outreach, social media sharing, ad sales, contact databases, event planning, membership drives, grant proposals, and the creation of regular quarterly or annual reports to let supporters know what they have accomplished. That’s where innovations in public relations skills are critical. How can there be so many new media ventures starting up at the same time legacy news organizations wring their hands, erect paywalls, and cut their way to attempted profitability? Clearly, something more than new business models is at play here. It’s important for you to learn about this. It’s clear that media entrepreneurs are articulating some new value propositions for their audiences. Nowadays, entirely new breeds of journalism are emerging from the imaginations of news entrepreneurs: mission-driven journalism, restorative narratives, soft-advocacy journalism, solutions journalism and activist journalism. Moreover, new media ventures are reaching out and engaging audiences in fresh, new ways, often building robust civic communications ecosystems. In learning about media innovation, you will be part of the creative process and a contributor to these new trends.