Entrepreneurial Journalism?

CUNY to Offer Master’s in Entrepreneurial Journalism

The Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York wants to capitalize on some of the shifts that have rocked traditional journalism — and traditional journalists — with the creation of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism and a new master of arts degree in entrepreneurial journalism, which the school will announce on Monday.

Entrepreneurial journalism, broadly speaking, simply refers to pulling journalism, business and technology closer together. CUNY already offers a course in entrepreneurial journalism, and this new master’s program will extend the traditional degree program to two years from 18 months. The courses in the program will focus on the business of managing media, and the study and creation of new media business models, and it will offer students apprenticeships at New York City start-ups.

“We’re all very concerned about sustaining quality journalism, and we think the future of journalism is going to be entrepreneurial,” said Stephen B. Shepard, the founding dean of the school and a former editor in chief of BusinessWeek.

I agree that the statement ‘we think the future of journalism is going to be entrepreneurial’ does undercut the authority of the speaker and gives the feel that its a bubble-inspired gamble of some sort.

And the reference to ‘quality journalism’ is a codeword for the implied sinking standards of the top dogs online, like TechCrunch, Politico, HuffPo, and so on.

If the world of journalism continues the rate of change of the past decade in the the next decade we won’t be talking about entrepreneurial journalism, but something else completely. The challenges of the future aren’t about being entrepreneurial, as some rebalancing of the role of journalism in society. The media empires that control news and its meaning are devaluing ‘journalism’ as they invest in entertainment, games, sports, and politics, directly, instead of the media who are supposed to make sense of it for us.

Fox News is a great example of directly making politics – not that I agree with their right wing lunacy – but it is working: it is entrepreneurial, since they are making money using the tools of media.

So I hope we can shift to a different blending of concepts.The focus on technology is perhaps the smartest move, since the successful media companies of the future will be more like software companies that magazines or newspapers.

I guess it would have been too much to call it ‘The School Of Media Technology’, because these guys still think the web is just another pen or a printing press. By ‘technology’ I mean a collection of skills, or the study of a body of knowledge, not just the hardware and software underlying modern media: not just the iPad or content management systems, but the knowledge of how to apply all these tools and techniques in the context of the new world we are entering. And if you teach people about that, they will figure our the business model, so you don’t have to put ‘entrepreneurial’ in front of every thing else.

Yes, it’s great that Jarvis is spawning new media start-ups, but I don’t think being a launchpad for start-ups should be the basis of a school dedicated to the future of ‘journalism’. It has to be something larger than that. So I am going to start talking about the future of media technology in this more general sense.

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