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How To Chart Your Own Path in the News Business
Spring 2013 syllabus • T/TH, 2-3:20 p.m., ULee 278 • http://j5301.tumblr.com Instructors Jake Batsell, Assistant Professor, 2012 Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship fellow Mark Vamos, O’Neil Chair of Business Journalism, former editor-in-chief of Fast Company
“There’s never been a better time, I tell students, to be a journalistic entrepreneur — to invent your own job, to become part of the generation that figures out how to produce and, yes, sell the journalism we desperately need as a society and as citizens of a shrinking planet.” -- Dan Gillmor, director, Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship “You don’t have to go work for some company that is trying to get journalism on the cheap by paying you $30,000 a year. Start something on your own. Report and don’t just repeat. And don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is good for the soul.” - James O’Shea, former editor of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune
In Media Entrepreneurship, we’ll explore how you can combine your creative passion and versatile skills to shape your own media career. A generation ago, young journalists could aspire to master one skill or platform and work for the same company for decades. No more. The job you’ll have in 10 years may not even exist today. You’ll likely change jobs frequently throughout your career, and you’ll need to create your own job. Here’s the good news: the Web eliminates barriers to entry and gives you more control over your fate. In this hands-on class, you’ll learn how to develop a new media business plan in a loose, experiential atmosphere, bouncing ideas off your instructors and classmates. You’ll also learn the basics of freelancing and self-employment, and you’ll be introduced to ideas from leading entrepreneurial journalists and guest speakers. We hope you’ll take what you learn from this class to become your own boss. Maybe now, maybe later … when opportunity knocks, you’ll be ready. Learning outcomes are expected in three main areas. You will: Understand the entrepreneurial landscape of the changing media industry
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Discover the startup culture as a possible career pathway. Analyze the editorial mission and business fundamentals of a media startup. Realize that you can deploy entrepreneurial ideas to become an “intrapraneur” within a larger organization, boosting your appeal as an employee. Understand the professional, financial, legal and regulatory framework of self-employment. Develop and polish a freelance pitch. Strengthen your personal brand through social media and your online portfolio. Distinguish between an idea (something you’d like to do) and an opportunity (something the market needs); clearly state a value proposition. Understand the pros and cons of different types of startup funding. Develop a business plan bolstered by rigorous market research and competitive analysis. Construct and deliver a pitch.
Grasp the basic principles of freelancing and self-employment
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Conceive, develop and pitch an entrepreneurial project
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Text: Entrepreneurial Journalism: How to Build What’s Next for News by Mark Briggs (CQ Press/SAGE Publications, 2012) We’ll also track the latest developments in entrepreneurial news via blogs, video and social media, particularly the Twitter hashtag #jpreneur. Our course Tumblr blog at http://j5301.tumblr.com is the best way to stay updated on weekly readings. Grading: Class and online participation 25 percent
(Attendance, in-class exercises, guest speakers, reactions on course blog and social media)
Written and oral presentation on a news startup Freelance pitch Create (or optimize) your personal branding site Business Plan and Pitch Final Exam
10 percent 15 percent 10 percent 30 percent 10 percent
PRELIMINARY CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)
Introduction | Understanding the past and present of the news ecosystem. (Startup presentation assigned)
Week Two: Get Inspired | Traits of successful news startups. Your 90-second idea. Week Three: Think Big | News startup presentations; Embracing innovation. Week Four: Painkillers, Not Vitamins | Idea or product? Money is the difference. Does the market need your idea? Conceive and craft your idea, value proposition and revenue streams. Week Five: Concept Pitch delivered in class.
The Freelancer as Entrepreneur. Breaking into the freelance market. (Freelance pitch assigned) You, Inc. | The nuts and bolts of self-employment. The international entrepreneur. (Personal branding sites assigned) Midterm course evaluations. Freelance pitches due.
Week Seven: You.com | Strengthening your personal brand. Work on personal branding sites. SPRING BREAK Week Eight: Show Me the Money | Pros and cons of different types of startup capital. Personal
branding sites due.
Week Nine: Due Diligence | Sharpening your target audience and analyzing the competition. Week Ten:
Proof of Concept Pitch delivered in class. Show Me the Su$tainability. Broadening revenue streams; crafting your business plan.
Week Eleven: Demos, Not Memos | Create your prototype. Week Twelve: The Art of the Pitch | Work on your business plan and pitch. Week Thirteen: Showtime! | Pitches. Week Fourteen: More pitches. Course wrap-up and review session for final exam. FINAL EXAM: Monday, May 13, 8-11 a.m., Umphrey Lee 278
Attendance: Treat this class as if it is a job. You are expected to be in every class, show up on time and turn in work on time. If you must miss class or lab, contact the instructors in advance, just as you would your editor or boss at work. Roll will be taken every day. Any student who misses the first day of class may be dropped. With three or more unexcused absences, you could be dropped or receive an “F.” Absences also will factor into your class participation grade. An absence will be considered unexcused unless you are able to provide a doctor's note or some other good reason within 24 hours of an absence. Acceptable reasons for missing class include a verifiable illness, family emergency, religious holiday or approved school trip. Again, contacting us ahead of time will always help your case. Those with an unexcused absence will receive a zero on that day’s class activity and will not be able to make it up. The SMU Health Center has changed its policy on giving forms for excused absences. The Health Center's new policy is found at http://smu.edu/healthcenter/policy/absenceclass.asp. Please note that there is a PDF file in this information that you can download and submit to me for consideration of an excused absence. This form must be filled out fully for us to consider your illness-related absence as excused. If you consult a physician for an illness and receive specific certification for a recovery time, absences will be excused if we are given a form from the physician's office. Grading: “A”s are rare and are awarded only for truly excellent work. Very good work receives a “B”; average work a “C”; below average a “D.” This is in accordance with SMU regulations. I am happy to discuss your grade for any project. If you wish to protest a grade, a formal process is available. Classroom computers and cell phones: Please follow common courtesy. Yes, this is a technologydriven class. But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to play Tetris on Facebook during class, or to catch up on e-mail. Computers and smartphones should be used only to participate in class activities. Silence your phones during class. If a cell phone rings during class, an instructor gets to answer it. Academic dishonesty: Plagiarism, fabrication and resubmission or double submission of work performed for another class all are considered to be acts of academic dishonesty and a violation of the
SMU Honor Code. Any of the above violations will result in an automatic failing grade on the assignment and a written referral to the SMU Honor Council and Dean of Student Life. Excused absences for extracurricular activities: If you are participating in an officially sanctioned, scheduled university extracurricular activity, you will be given the opportunity to make up class assignments. It is your responsibility to make arrangements with your teacher prior to any missed assignment. (See University Undergraduate Catalogue.)
Religious accommodations: If you are a religiously observant student who will be absent on holidays, you must notify your teacher in writing at the beginning of the semester. You should also discuss in advance acceptable ways of making up any missed worked. (See University Policy No. 1.9.) Disability accommodations: If you need academic accommodations for a disability, you must first contact Rebecca Marin, Coordinator, Services for Students with Disabilities at (214) 768-4557 to verify the disability and establish eligibility for accommodations. You should also schedule an appointment with your teacher to make any necessary arrangements. A verification letter from Ms. Marin or another official is required. (See University Policy No. 2.4.)
NOTABLE DUE DATES
Thursday, Jan. 31: Share your initial entrepreneurial idea in 90 seconds or less. Tuesday, Feb. 5:
News startup presentations delivered in class.
Tuesday, Feb. 19: Concept Pitch delivered in class. Three minutes, tops. One-page memo. Thursday, March 7: Freelance pitches due. Thursday, March 21: Personal branding sites due (must be finalized by 11:59 p.m.). Tuesday, April 2:
Proof of Concept Pitch and draft biz plan delivered in class. Five minutes, tops.
Tuesday, April 23: Business Plan and Pitch, Round I. Ten minutes, tops. Thursday, April 25: Business Plan and Pitch, Round II. Ten minutes, tops. Tuesday, April 30: Business Plan and Pitch, Round III. Ten minutes, tops. Monday, May 13:
Final exam, 8 a.m.
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