At Start Co., we believe that thinking like an entrepreneur is a mindset that benefits more than just our founders. That’s why when Dr.s Lurene Kelley and Carrie Brown of the University of Memphis approached us about developing a course that taught entrepreneurial skills to their journalism students, we couldn’t say no. “Given the disruptive forces that have forever changed the traditional news model, we thought that we needed a course that would encourage a different kind of thinking among our students,” said Lurene Kelley. “We wanted them to think about developing their own journalistic endeavors or at least learn to think in a more innovative fashion.”
Many would say that this partnership was born out of necessity. The Internet has destabilized the business models that sustained quality journalism for decades. “It is no longer enough for journalism students to develop strong skills in writing, reporting and creating multimedia editorial content,” Carrie Brown stated. “They must also learn business fundamentals, marketing strategies and how to take advantage of new opportunities for sustainability and growth.” This nontraditional skillset is essential in order for journalists to figure out their future in the age of the Internet.
Entrepreneurial Journalism is a course requirement for any student seeking a graduate degree in journalism. Throughout the semester, the class utilizes Start Co.’s founder’s toolkit in order to emphasize the importance of creative problem solving. Students are taught to fully embrace the three D’s of starting up and learn to conduct customer discovery, explore product delivery methods and maximize dollars received.
Work is done collaboratively, and ideas are shared to develop strategic solutions to problems facing the news industry and beyond. The experience culminates with a final pitch in front of fellow students, faculty and members of Memphis’ entrepreneurial community that simulates the atmosphere encountered at a scaled down demo day.
“Without the support of Start Co. and Andre Fowlkes, our Entrepreneurial Journalism class could not have been nearly as dynamic or valuable as it has become,” Kelley remarked. Entrepreneurial Journalism is more than just a class. It is producing viable ideas and creating connections across the country. “The partnership is already bearing fruit,” added Kelley. With students creating business plans for final projects, participating in accelerator programs and even working for Start Co., this alliance is only growing stronger.
Want to get a student’s perspective on this unique opportunity? Keep an eye on our blog for part two of the series. In the mean time, check out this semester’s entrepreneurial journalism class’ blog here.