By Kevin O'Keefe

Digital entrepreneurism the future for journalists

Bill Pollak, CEO of Incisive Media North America (parent to American Lawyer Media), and I have been exchanging thoughts on Twitter the last couple days about journalists leaving main stream media (MSM) to go solo. The discussion was precipitated by my views that legal publishing, like we’ve seen with newspapers, is going to see some upheaval.

I see opportunities for journalists who’ve lost their jobs or are at risk to do so to start their own online publications. Focusing on a niche provides an opportunity to earn close to or in excess of six figures. I have friends doing so in Seattle. Not only is the potential income greater than working in MSM, but the future is more secure. Being in control of your destiny beats the insecurity of not knowing when your publication will begin layoffs and looking for a new job.

Bill, coming from MSM and someone I have a lot of respect for, questions whether someone can do six figures from online publishing alone and sees a lot of risks.

This morning I ran across a News Entrepreneur Boot Camp being hosted by University of Southern California / Annenberg School for Communication in conjunction with Knight Digital Media. They’re looking for digital entrepreneurs with great ideas for community news and information initiatives in the public interest.

Why are they conducting the camp? “Traditional news organizations are floundering as business models collapse and audiences are increasingly turning to alternative news and information sources.”

Look at what they’re going to cover. This is the stuff journalists need to know how to today.

  • Identifying the best business model for sustained success.
  • Developing a sustainable business plan.
  • Marketing and audience development.
  • Content production and management models.
  • Legal and tax issues.
  • Identifying capitalization sources.
  • Developing and implementing revenue and advertising strategies.
  • Successful social networking models.
  • Selecting and implementing technical platforms.
  • Understanding and using metrics.

Digital entrepreneurism is real. Sure there are risks. But everything we do is full of risks. Holding onto the past for as long as you can hoping you’ll still have a job is risky.

Veteran journalists. Recent grads. There are tremendous opportunities in journalism today. They lie online and require an entrepreneurial bent. Because most people are afraid of change/risk and don’t want to learn new things, the opportunities are even greater for those willing to be bold.

You may not see yourself as an entrepreneur, but if you wish to follow your dreams of a rewarding career in reporting and publishing, digital entrepreneurism is the way to go.

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