In the middle of Mark Glaser’s good consideration of the Carnegie-Knight News 21 project, a year into it, he makes this intriguing suggestion:
So why not take the $6 million and create real new-media incubator businesses? Stanford University helped create Yahoo and Google, but those companies didn’t come from the journalism school. Perhaps the journalism schools could team with computer programming departments to create hybrid sites that combine the best technology of sites such as Digg or YouTube with the editorial standards that come from journalism.
We need that kind of innovation and daring in the industry — and it’s not coming from the industry.
This is why I added a course/lab in entrepreneurial interactive journalism into the CUNY curriculum; I’ll be teaching it next fall. The idea is that students will come up with and flesh out ideas for new businesses or products. I’m hoping that some of them may even come to life. But I’d like suggestions from you all on how to make this work, how to make it more than just prototypes, which journalism schools pump out regularly. What can bring the kind of entrepreneurial drive to journalism and media that Mark notes at Stanford around technology and media?
Mark’s story continues:
Ford, a fellow at Northwestern, told me he thinks journalism schools should be a place for innovation and experimentation as they live outside the commercial media world.
“In many industries, universities are the breeding ground for the cutting edge,” he said. “Whether it be science, industry, business or engineering, often university research can foster new development in a given industry. This has not always been the case in journalism schools. More often than not, students in J-schools are being trained on outdated equipment, with outdated technology, with the ultimate focus on theory and basic skills. This training can produce good, even great journalists — an admirable goal — but it does little to move journalism forward in innovation.
“Few are the media organizations with the resources and time to commit to experimenting with new ways of reporting and disseminating content. News21 is an experiment in itself, a chance for the time and resources to be committed for the sole purpose of trying something new. Whether our work resonates or not will be evident in coming weeks. In the end, it was a daring experiment, and will be worth its effort in lessons learned, if nothing else.”
I should add that there are elements of this at the Northwestern Medill program. I worked with Rich Gordon and the students there on the GoSkokie hyperlocal project at the same time that they created new sections for the Lee newspapers. Both projects, are sadly, history and I think that may be because they depended on big, old media companies to nurture them. That is no longer necessary. And I’d say it’s also not desirable, for big new ideas — Yahoo, Google, MySpace, Flickr, About, YouTube, Wikipedia… — could grow bigger faster on their own.
For the first time since William Randolph Hearst, journalists can think and act independently and entrepreneurially. So how do we help them do that?
LATER: Two minutes after posting this, Rich Gordon gave me the good news that I am wrong about the continuing life of those two projects: But your post is wrong that both projects are history. Lee killed the print property but kept it alive online. And it’s really great news that, as Rich says, “the Skokie Library took the GoSkokie ball and ran with it” at SkokieTalk, crediting the Medill project as the inspiration.
: AND: Terry Heaton and I seize on the same paragraph.