rough draft: outline for lecture on entrepreneurial journalism

By on Apr 20, 2010 in blogging, blogging techniques, citizen journalism, journalism, newspapers | 6 comments

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In a couple of weeks I'll be giving a lecture at City University, where I'm a Visiting Journalism Fellow, on Entrepreneurial Journalism. My intention isn't to offer any answers, just point out some opportunities to a group of 100 MA students who, due to the economic climate and recent shifts in consumption of content and the business models for making money out of it, are no longer assured a job in their chosen profession by simply graduating from one of the top journalism departments in the country. It's not all doom and gloom – a number of last year's students are out there, thriving, and getting paid for their work – and hopefully I'll be able to point this year's students towards some similar opportunities.

Here's a rough draft outline that I've put together, with a bit of help in the form of some great links (thanks!) provided by Paul Bradshaw and Craig McGinty, both of whom have benefited personally and professional by embracing the brave new world that is entrepreneurial journalism. Here's the draft – links and other feedback happily received – I need your help!:

Section One – the old way

Sales based business models…

Sell content to an audience

> some people willing to pay for content
> some people willing to pay for packaging and/or delivery device
> subscriptions ensure lock-in to daily, weekly, monthly or annual payment
>> direct subscription with content provider (eg. magazine subscription)
>> indirect subscription via third party, usually a platform (satellite providers, etc)
> royalties from use (cuttings services, Performing Right Society (PRS), Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS), etc)

Build an audience, and sell eyeballs to advertisers… price depends on:

> size of audience

> demographic (age, sex, location, education, income; niche vs general)

> advertiser perception of importance of brand

Problems with the old model, online

> many people consider content to be free
> mechanisms for small, one off, (micro)payments prohibitively complex and expensive
> google and others aggregate and repackage content, denying the original eyeballs to sell
> audiences fragmented
>> almost unlimited competition from many producers

Section Two: Business models for Social Media

> create a participatory framework
> increase audience size and loyalty through participation
> users generate most of content
> users reveal demographic data
>> detailed demographic data has a higher value to advertisers
> data trail from participation reveals even more about users (facebook knows that you're 20, recently described yourself as "unattached", attend City University, and just friended a whole bunch of ex-classmates who recently changed their location to Sydney – queue Qantas and dating website advertisments)

But still, they depend largely upon old models…

> sell subscriptions to advanced features (flickr, linked in, dating websites)
> sell subscriptions to content (coming soon to News International properties)
> targeted advertising (facebook, premium google search results)
> general advertising (banner ads)
> sell opportunities to engage with audience (

and a few new ones…

> sue google (
> crowdsourced funding (
> crowdsourced innovation and marketing (, Dell Ideastorm, etc)
> stay alive long enough to get to IPO

Section Three: So how to be an entrepreneurial journalist?

> yes, there are some ways to make money
> think more widely about extracting value from your content and participation online
>> build yourself as a brand
>> have conversations that could lead to job opportunities
>> come up with interesting projects that might attract funding from, for example, the Knight Foundation
> you're not just a journalist anymore – you also have to sell, market, consult, network and it would help to develop websites too…

Making money – obvious opportunities

> google ads – small money, but easy and doesn't involve any selling
> banner advertising – automated, and again easy, but very little money in it
> associate programmes – advertise products and services, such as items from Amazon, using embed code – easy, and can be good money in right circumstances
> target a niche, and sell ads to those who want to advertise to that niche (
> build a compelling proposition and sell it on
> sell your skills – whether it's setting up blogs, live blogging events, creating and implementing a social media strategy, run audience engagement activities etc you have skills others might want

Build Yourself as a Brand

> again, targeting a niche you genuinely are interested in makes sense
>> might be fun anyway
>> demonstrate ability to create an audience as well as content
>> gets you noticed
>> less competition, particularly from “old media” (FT – example of big media doing ok in this space)

Have Conversations To Create Opportunities

> point prospects to your online presence
> build your professional network, and make it visible (linked in, slideshare, etc)
> live blog industry events
> become the centre of the audience community you target

Market and Sell Your Skills, Not Content

> you can create content – identify who, both within in the media and elsewhere, might be interested in it
>> PR, Marketing, Industry, Government, etc
> show others how you do it – teaching and consulting can be rewarding, and it pays


> Extract data from your audience and sell it (data mining)
> Repackage data to build new things (and sell it – councils, news, marketing agencies, etc)
> Devise applications (see Glamour Ask a Stylist app)
> Sell and manage clever content + social media propositions


(Update: 22 April)

I'm really pleased to announce that I've enlisted the help of two guests, both of them innovators and successful entrepreneurial journalists, to provide case studies from their own experience and work with students to generate some new ideas during the lecture:

Alex Johnson, who lives around the corner from me has, from his garden shed, created a business out of writing about, what else, garden sheds ( with a bit of consulting on the side.

Richard Lander, a City Graduate himself, is the Director and Executive Producer of Citywire Holdings (