This is a big opportunity for anyone who wants to take a beat — covering a town or part of a city or covering a topic or serving a community — and make that into a sustainable business (that is, one that will feed the journalist). At CUNY’s Tow-Knight Center, we will be running tuition-free training and mentorship starting this summer for the 15 best applicants who come to us.
There are now lots of examples of beat businesses that are sustainable: hyperlocal services like Baristanet, West Seattle Blog, Red Bank Green, plus business-to-business sites like Skift, and no end of tech blogs, and many more. We know what that business needs to succeed, in content, in marketing, in sales, in technology.
I wrote in my book about beat businesses as the building blocks of new news ecosystems. I have been doing a lot of work in New York and especially in New Jersey — in partnership with the Dodge Foundation, the Knight Foundation, Montclair State, and others — to support the ecosystem there.
Now we must grow the ecosystem. That is what this training is about.
And now we must support journalists who want to continue serving communities even though they no longer work for newspapers or other news outlets.
At CUNY, we are hiring great trainers who have helped many of the existing businesses, Janet and Rusty Coats. They, in turn, are bringing on experienced mentors to give ongoing support. All the details of the training are here. You will come out of this program with a realistic, workable business and product plan, and access to a powerful network of fellow entrepreneurs and media experts.
All you need to do is have the energy and passion to serve a community. You tell us what community that is and why you think you’re right to do it. We will help you start.
And if you’re lucky enough to work in New Jersey or New York, you will get even more ongoing support with well-established networks in both places.
So apply. Or pass it on to a journalist or community member who wants to turn a beat into a living.