In an industry facing fewer jobs and more journalism graduates, the concept of the entrepreneurial journalist (an idea freelancers will be familiar with) is growing in popularity.
Earlier in the year, Birmingham’s City University launched MAs in Online Journalism and Freelance Journalism with a strong focus on entrepreneurship and enterprise.
“We will be exploring new business models and I think that is the chief difference. We’re certainly not relying on the existing structures,” Online Journalism MA course leader Paul Bradshaw said in March.
“Ultimately the industry is crying out for this and there’s clearly a demand for it.”
So it was good to hear from Newcastle University‘s David Baines and Dr Ciara Kennedy at Friday’s Association of Journalism Education (AJE) conference about the institution’s plans to bring more of these skills into journalism training.
The university has already introduced business and entrepreneurial training to other disciplines using its Solvers programme – next year will see the same crossover with the journalism school.
The aim? To teach ‘a new world view, the benefits of an entrepreneurial life, knowledge of how to and the start-up process, networking skills’.
Speaking about the changes, Baines said elements of the traditional freelance journalist would be developed – for example, expanding journalists’ business skills, such as negotiating payment for work.
“To be self-employed is not necessarily the same as being enterprising,” he explained.
“Do journalists want to be a business? They want to be journalists. We’ve a long standing tradition of journalistic values being established against business values.”
The idea of entrepreneurship will be embedded in the curriculum with students expected to bring more than just starting points for their projects to the table, with ideas to develop them beyond the course.
One area that these skills will feed into – hyperlocal publishing and journalism, says Baines: “Hyperlocal – isn’t that a business model that a couple of our graduates could take on? They could take on local papers on their own terms and do it better than them.”