Entrepreneurial journalism: what we need in this market

With CBC’s March announcement that they are cutting 140 jobs, it becomes ever more important for journalists to take control of their own industry. I know this seems daunting…corporate funding is what allows us to buy things like groceries and electricity. But, what happens when that corporate funding dissipates?

I can tell you that this is a question most journalists try not to think about.

I’m taking a journalism workshop class at Ryerson and it forced us to think about this question. Our big project was to create (or create the foundations of) a product that could be used for journalism. The idea is not be subject to the ever changing industry.  Instead of looking for jobs, we can create our own through entrepreneurship.

It was VERY difficult. We chose groups based on pitches that we made about our qualities and what we could bring to a team. Then, we had to come up with an idea.

There were four people in my group, so it took a while to get the ball rolling. Everyone had different ideas, and when we finally agreed on a concept, everyone had a different vision of how that concept would look.  Out first idea was “Newsflix”, kind of like a video aggregator that would organize Canadian broadcast news and make is accessible and searchable.  After we pitched this idea to our class, we found that there were a number of flaws in our plan.

So, we went back to the drawing board and created whYmix. The tagline: “Not your parents’ news!” This would combine our original idea of aggregated content and merge it with original videos that we would create specifically tailored to the Y-generation. It included a “morning coffee” with 60 second roundups and a “nightcap” which included a 3-5 minute broadcast where we speak with young professionals about an important issue in the news.  We would also have “weekly hashtags” that would be searchable. It was there we would sort and archive video content from other Canadian broadcast agencies. It was an awesome idea!

whYmix brainstorming and ironing out our business plan
whYmix brainstorming and ironing out our business plan

We had our idea…now we had to pitch it. At the end of the course, we had to present our idea to a panel of judges, including developers, entrepreneurs, and digital media experts. After our 10 minute presentation, they asked us a number of questions—which I think we answered brilliantly.

The biggest challenge wasn’t the idea, but how it was going to work. We had to have revenue, and therefore were forced to include advertisements despite all of our research that said people hate ads. We had to figure our how we would approach our partnerships with other broadcasters and how we would market our product. Luckily, we didn’t have to actually quantify the costs involved.

We also had to think into the future: would we develop an app? Would it be adaptable to the new Apple Watches? What would we like to do in a year? What about five years?

We haven’t gotten our mark for this pitch, but it doesn’t matter. The experience itself was eye opening. The first thing I learned is that it is a LOT of work to create something out of nothing. Having an idea is great, but you need the expertise to carry it out. You have to be able to quantify your worth to investors and be confident enough in your research to be able to answer questions like “why are you the right person to do this?” or “what makes your product different from the thousands of other apps and websites out there?” How can your product be sustainable in this changing market? What’s the demand?

And you just have to hope that it all works out and that your idea is sustainable.

Is this the future of journalism? Perhaps. But, if it is, then we have a lot of work ahead of ourselves. It’s not as easy as saying “let’s create our own jobs,” but you need funding, a steady cash flow, and a dedicated team of developers and content managers to make it a reality.

After saying that….I have to admit it’s kind of fun.

The above teaser to our “nightcap” video was a collaborative effort between my colleagues David Chen, Gina Wicentowich, Arielle Piat-Sauve, and I. Let us know what you think of the idea.

See my Youtube Page Here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9a1-FealN_a_uZ8Fl6482Q

See David Chen’s Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davideoc…
See Gina Wicentowich’s Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1TW…
See Arielle Piat-Sauve’s Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDAN…


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