When 15 educators from around the world went back to school — metaphorically speaking — at the third annual Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute earlier this month, they learned two big things: the art of the pitch in gaining support for an entrepreneurial idea and the idea of the pivot — the change in direction that moves an idea or team forward.
Journalism schools, as they seek to remake themselves to adapt to the changing media environment, would be well-served to learn these two lessons and adopt the “agile development” model for building curriculum. These professors will take these lessons learned and apply them to new courses designed to teach their students how to be entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs innovating within existing companies.
Hugh Martin, associate professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, teaches media management. “What I learned will improve the way that I teach students to prepare a pitch for investors,” he said. “The workshop also offered useful insights into how startup companies and investors think and act.”
Understanding a culture
The weeklong event, hosted by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation, helps educators implement media entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the curriculum. Professors are introduced to startup founders, venture capital partners, angel investors and others who helped orient faculty to the startup culture and why entrepreneurial skills are critical for today’s communication school graduates.
“Entrepreneurship and creativity have been at the heart of our company since its founding 135 years ago,” said Mike Philipps, president and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation, the corporate philanthropy arm of The E.W. Scripps Company. “This spirit of innovation has made Scripps one of the nation’s leading media companies, so it’s incumbent upon us to encourage entrepreneurial thinking to support the industry’s evolution.”
Dan Gillmor, founding director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, coordinates the program, bringing his experience and contacts in Silicon Valley to educators.
“We hope we’re helping folks better understand the startup culture — including what it takes to be an entrepreneur and the resources available to entrepreneurs. Then they can help their students understand it as well.”
The benefits of the institute go beyond helping students in the classroom. Scott Titsworth, dean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, has three faculty members who have completed the fellowship program. “In a landscape defined by innovation, change and new business models, one of the challenges we face in higher education is professional development for faculty,” he said. “We think an added bonus is that these faculty will infuse the perspectives of innovation and entrepreneurship into our own practices as we seek to adapt and grow as an academic unit.”
2014 Scripps Howard Entrepreneurship Institute Fellows
- Kiesha Easley, mass communication instructor, Benedict College
- Neil Foote, principal lecturer, the University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism
- Lori Henson, journalism lecturer, Indiana State University
- Susan Jacobson, assistant professor, Florida International University
- Rachele Kanigel, associate professor of journalism and acting director of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, San Francisco State University
- Beth Konrad, journalism program director and senior professional in residence, Loyola University Chicago
- Kurt Lancaster, associate professor of digital media, Northern Arizona University
- Norm Lewis, associate professor of journalism, University of Florida
- Hugh J. Martin, associate professor, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University
- Joy McDonald, assistant professor, Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications at Hampton University
- Colleen McEdwards, lecturer, Georgia State University and anchor, CNN International
- Sean Mussenden, lecturer of digital journalism, University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism
- Kevin Rafter, associate professor and associate dean for research, Dublin City University, Ireland
- Michael I. Williams, associate professor and director of special projects and innovation, University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications
- Emily Withrow, assistant professor of journalism, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism
Learn more about the entrepreneurship institute’s efforts to stoke innovation in journalism programs.
Michelle Ferrier is associate dean of innovation at the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University and associate professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Ferrier is vice president of Journalism That Matters and creator of the “Create or Die” startup weekends. Ferrier is an inaugural Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center fellow and an inaugural fellow in the Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Texts and Technology from the University of Central Florida and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Memphis. Ferrier is a former columnist, digital content architect and online community developer who has been involved in new media for more than 30 years. She has worked in strategic communication, policy analysis and publishing for several national nonprofit organizations. Her research interests include media entrepreneurship, online journalism, online communities and hyperlocal online news. Contact her at [email protected] or online.