Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and the Google News Initiative are launching an eight-week virtual bootcamp on journalism entrepreneurship to help news entrepreneurs develop sustainable business models.
Phillip Smith, founder of the Journalism Entrepreneurship Training Co., will be running the bootcamp that he developed and executed on his own in 2018.
“The curriculum is laser-focused on helping people understand and try to mitigate the risks ahead of time — by interviewing potential customers, potential sponsors, and advertisers and getting into the weeds of what their business is going to be after they launch. [Often], people leaving a newsroom just go out there and they start reporting, set up a WordPress site, and six months later look back and think, ‘How the hell am I going to pay myself?’ I saw that pattern happen so often that I thought there’s got to be a better way to ensure that these people succeed.
“Journalists are natural skeptics, except when it comes to their own idea about their business plan. The challenge I ask participants to undertake is to apply that natural skepticism to their own assumptions. Let’s not risk our business on an untested assumption. Let’s test all of those assumptions that people are interested in what you’re going to report on and that they’d be willing to support you in some financial way.”
The seminars are weekly and remote, though participants will be required to go into their communities and conduct interviews about how information needs can better be served.
Anika Anand, programming director for LION and who has also worked with Google News Initiative on Project Oasis, says that “the program came together fairly organically.”
Smith is also a member of LION’s Advisory Council.
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