Rebecca MacKinnon says that journalism schools need to teach students to be more entrepreneurial. I agree that that’s why I added an entrepreneurial course that I will teach to the curriculum of CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism (you won’t find it online; it’s new).

The idea is that students need to create a new journalistic product. These could be businesses the students start when they graduate (and because they may have the next Google in mind, this will be the one course I won’t webcast) or a product they could start in an existing media company (because they are all woefully short on R&D) or even a charitable endeavor (but even in this case, they need to show why people would give money to make it work).

Says Rebecca:

American journalism is in crisis. What a wonderful opportunity we now have to rethink the whole industry. The question is: Even if journalism schools do train the future’s journalists to innovate and think outside the box, will today’s news organizations be prepared or willing to take advantage of their fresh ideas?

I find it pleasantly ironic that while some in journalism wish it weren’t a business, others want to train journalists to be better at business. Count me in the second camp and see my other posts on the topic today.

  • Also train business people to be better journalists. IMHO all 4 year degrees should have some study in entreunership or business.

  • No so much entrepreneurial, but commercially aware, I would say. You’re pushing the proverbial uphill if you think you can turn journalists into business people. After all, the reason most of them get into journalism in the first place is their facility with words, their scepticism, their dislike of structure. Journalists are classic non-joiners. They don’t like to sing from the company songbook.

    But hold on. Maybe business people need to become more like journalists. Journalists aren’t ‘yes men/women’. Great! They ask difficult questions. Great! (wouldn’t Enron have benefited from a few of those on their internal staff?). They get to the nub of an issue quickly (shorter meetings, yay!). They make excellent advocates, presenters, researchers, strategists and provocateurs. They are good at asking ‘what happens next’?

    I would argue that business would be richer for the skills of journalists. And, yes, journalists need more of a commercial focus. If news is a commodity – as the aggregators of the world have deemed it to be – then who is in the best position to market the commodity, but the producer?