Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, Entrepreneur, journalism

Part 2 – 5 Concrete Steps To Moving The Needle On Media Entrepreneurship

By Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D.

After my East Coast Listening Tour (see my post from yesterday) where I connected with those in the media entrepreneurship ecosystem, I’ve gathered a few potential steps to move the needle on media entrepreneurship by or for people of color.

1. It took someone else’s perspective for me to see the value of the work of the Journalism That Matters Create or Die series of design | build | pitch events that were held in 2010 in Detroit and 2011 in Greensboro, NC. These events serve as a firestarter…an opportunity for passionate people to meet talented technicians and ignite innovation in the journalism space.  The passion of the Greensboro 52 or G52 has continued to live on our Facebook Create or Die group, where members share their projects, needs and support. We need to move more of these projects up the pipeline to funding and raise awareness for our successes. And it looks like Create or Die 3 will have an important place in this media entrepreneurship ecosystem.

2. The second step is to create more venues like Comcast’s DreamIt Ventures and UNITY’s NewU that increase the odds that diverse people and projects can pitch and be heard. As part of this mix, we need incubators that don’t require relocation to Silicon Valley or Boulder, Colorado. A “Bloom where you’re planted” model would bring together training and talent in a geographic space. Journalism That Matters piloted such an idea in Seattle in 2010. The Pacific Northwest Collaboratory was born as a support system for the new news ecology there. That successful experiment should be replicated in other regions.

3. The third step is education and training for the hundreds of potential business that wither at the doorways to incubators and pitch sessions. These projects could be successful if provided with nurturing, talent, and access to funds. We need a distributed model, probably online and in physical space, that will help give entrepreneurs just-in-time access to the information and people that can help vet and nurture new ideas.

4. The fourth step is the creation of a talent network so that media entrepreneurs can find and build a talented team that has a higher likelihood of success. Content ideas rarely get funded unless they have a strong technology play. Many ideas flounder because of the lack of a tech team early on in the process of product development.

5. The fifth step is to create a microfund to support application fees and travel fees for potential entrepreneurs to attend and perhaps pitch at the other startup weekends and venues around the country. These small loans, probably of a couple of hundred dollars, will help in identifying media entrepreneurs in need of just the services a robust network can provide (see bullet three and four).

I’d love to hear what others think is needed to make the whole ecosystem a tight, resilient, effective network. I’m still listening.

Dr. Michelle Ferrier is founder and publisher of LocallyGrownNews.com, a hyperlocal community news site now in its second year. She is also an associate professor in the School of Communications at Elon University.

 

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, Entrepreneur, Innovation, journalism

Part 1 – Addressing The Blockage In The Media Entrepreneurship Deal Flow

By Michelle Ferrier, Ph.D.

In search of the larger picture of media entrepreneurship, I recently traveled from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., and environs to meet with incubator directors, serial entrepreneurs, and others in the digital intelligencia. My goal, I thought, was simple. Engage in conversations about the new media landscape and how to fund great ideas.

Admittedly, I went with my own preconceived notions on what I’ve dubbed the East Coast Listening Tour. I was thinking of creating an accelerator to help educate and fund journalism-based projects coming out of the Journalism That Matters Create or Die series of design | build | pitch events in Detroit and Greensboro.

But something shifted on that road trip. Perhaps, like in the movies, my character learns something about herself as she traveled down the highways. As I met with folks like Doug Mitchell, co-director of UNITY’s New U incubator and William Crowder, managing director of the Comcast DreamIt Ventures project and Dr. Chad Womack, cofounder of the Black Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative, I stopped thinking and talking. I put on my journalism hat. And I started asking questions and listening.

What is needed in the media entrepreneurship space for projects by and for people of color? What do project teams need in terms of education, training or funding? When do they need such interventions? Who is already servicing these people with the skills and knowledge to be successful? What is the audience that is not being served effectively?

Many on the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism Task Force have talked about the lack of financing for journalism projects by or for people of color. New U was designed to help address that gap. DreamIt Ventures was designed to fill that need. But as I chatted with people just as passionate about media entrepreneurship, the larger media ecosystem became a bit clearer. And the gaping holes became increasingly apparent.

With more than 200 applicants for 16 slots in the 2010 class, New U has a very selective process for picking its final teams for mentoring. Four of the 16 go on to actual funding. Same scenario with DreamIt Ventures. Many more entrepreneurs are waiting for their shot than the number of slots available to accommodate them.

Venture capitalists talk about deal flow…the number of ideas it takes for the big one to be found. To me, it doesn’t seem as if we have any problem with deal flow with the hundreds of entrepreneurs of color waiting for a chance to be heard. What I see is a tremendous narrowing of the arteries leading to the heart of the matter – funding. And lots of ideas never see the light of day for lack of access to that flow.

Tomorrow, Part 2: 5 Concrete Steps to Moving the Needle on Media Entrepreneurship

Dr. Michelle Ferrier is founder and publisher of LocallyGrownNews.com, a hyperlocal community news site now in its second year. She is also an associate professor in the School of Communications at Elon University.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, Entrepreneur, Innovation, journalism

Create Your Media Business Dream at Create or Die 2

What: Journalism that Matters “Create or Die 2″ gathering focused on journalism entrepreneurship for diverse and underrepresented communities. Come create your new media business idea – innovate, incubate, initiate.

Who: Journalists, entrepreneurs, programmers, bloggers, technologists, educators, developers, designers, funders, social entrepreneurs, community activists, community builders, and YOU!

When: June 2-5, 2011

Where: University of North Carolina-Greensboro

Cost: A sliding scale based on roles. A limited number of scholarships are available…register and request registration waiver at $25 level.

Next Steps: Register at http://www.createordie2.org

PROGRAM

Journalism That Matters, Create or Die 2 creates journalism innovations and media startups focused on diverse and underserved communities. Create or Die 2 uses an open-space format, an unconference style that puts the spotlight on participants and their passions.

  • Thursday | Inspiration Day: Conversation catalysts set the stage for team development. Our Innovation Expo showcases participant projects and ventures.
  • Friday | Design Day: Participants create sessions that explore new content, technology, funding, audiences and other ideas. Teams develop to pursue specific ideas for businesses or projects.
  • Saturday | Build Day: Teams meet to flesh out ideas and develop pitches.
  • Sunday | Pitch Day: Our coaching team of venture capital, foundation and entrepreneur mentors help teams refine their ideas and next steps.

PRIZES

Journalism That Matters Create or Die 2 offers cash prizes to winning pitch teams of $500-$1000. In addition, three North Carolina regional teams will benefit from close mentoring through the following incubators:

  • Winston-Salem: Wake Forest University: Offering one year of free incubation including access to databases, internships, mentorship and space.
  • Greensboro: Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship: Six months of shared office space, mentoring and networking to a local journalism startup.
  • Durham: Council for Entrepreneurial Development: Mentorship and networking to a Durham-based team.

PEOPLE
Three conversation catalysts open the gathering Thursday evening, offering perspectives from different communities using different technologies:

  • John Keith, executive producer of WNYC, shares how radio uses mobile phone technology for sourcing and delivering news and information;
  • Tani Ikeda, executive director of imMEDIAte Justice in Los Angeles, teaches high school girls media literacy and sexuality education. Ikeda is an award winning director who creates narratives, documentaries, music videos, and commercial projects. She was named one of the 25 visionaries that are changing your world by the Utne Reader.
  • Mani Saint-Victor, president of Marveloper, LLC, talks about his transition from physician to creator of a social media marketing and game development studio. Marveloper is a game development company that markets games built from within the community by members of the community.

Three coaches guide our teams on Sunday with ideas for development and next steps. The coaching panel includes:

  • Hezekiah Griggs III, founder, H360 Angel Venture Capital, Charlotte, NC. Hezekiah is touted as the youngest media mogul in the country and recently started H360 to fund early-stage startups.
  • Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, American University, Washington, DC. Jan’s organization funds annual journalism prizes such as New Voices and New Media Women Entrepreneurs and conducts research into new media innovations.
  • Roger Gafke, professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism and director of program development for the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. In that role he builds partnerships for research projects, programs and funding from corporations, foundations, associations and individuals.

What’s missing? YOU. Join us for an engaging, inspiring and creative opportunity to develop entrepreneurial media ventures. Ignite your dream.

Register Now! www.createordie2.org.

For more information, contact Dr. Michelle Ferrier, mferrier@elon.edu or at
336-278-5737.

Sponsored By:

Disrupters: Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Elon University School of Communications, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Elon University Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership,

Connectors: Media Giraffe Project, GW Center for Independent Journalism

Collaborators: Greensboro Partnership, Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship, Wake Forest University, Council for Entrepreneurial Development.

Communicators: Reynolds Journalism Institute, UNITY, WNYC, IJE, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, San Francisco State University, Renaissance Journalism Center.

Posted in Conferences & Conventions, Education, Innovation, journalism, multimedia journalist, Technology

Create or Die 2: Journalists, Innovators and Investors

By Mike Green, award-winning journalist and Chief Information Officer and a co-founder of the Black Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative

Editor’s note: please join NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force TODAY for a free webinar, Tapping our Oral Traditions: How To Add A Podcast To Your Print Story, from noon to 1:00 p.m. EDT.  Join multimedia journalist Vanessa Deggins as she shows how to create a podcast to accompany a print story. She will allow us to listen to some of her work and she’ll answer questions on how you can get started. The NABJDigital blog will also have links to resources Deggins recommends for producing podcasts.

What happens when you combine the intellect and innovative talks of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) with the high energy, passion and zeal of SXSW (South By Southwest: Music, Film, Interactive) and channel it into the media industry?

You get “Create or Die.”

Journalism That Matters is the umbrella organization that gave birth to this new paradigm of innovative spontaneous collaborations within the construct of a new kind of conference where people engage with the passionate purpose of bringing ideas to fruition.

“Journalism That Matters is known for creating high-energy, high-passion gatherings,” said Dr. Michelle Ferrier, one of the event’s organizers.  “Our goal is to bring together a network of thought leaders and doers in the digital space to reimagine a news ecology that serves all of us. Participants are always amazed at the creativity and action generated at the sessions. ”

Create or Die 2 (Innovate, Incubate, Initiate) is the second iteration of an event that focuses on journalism innovation and diversity. Building upon the success of the first Create or Die conference held in Detroit last year, Create or Die 2 will be held June 2 – 5, 2011, on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

“The challenges of bringing more diverse voices and creating more viable business models are issues that can be and should be addressed together in the journalism world. As new media finds its place, we can shift a tragic trend by bringing more resources and energy to involving an increasingly diverse public,” said Peggy Holman, co-founder of Journalism That Matters and author of Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity.

Imagine a gathering of highly energized innovators from across myriad industry sectors engaging with entrepreneurial-minded journalists within a series of “unconference” style sessions that promote brainstorming, sharing, collaboration and production of new ideas that can be matched to interested funders.

“The design, build, pitch format is designed to create a ‘competition’ with people cooperating on innovating new journalism entrepreneurial ventures,” said Ferrier. “We want more people and communities of color engaged in telling their own stories and finding the means to do so through innovation.”

It’s no secret the media industry is influx. A transformation has occurred that disrupted old business models and encouraged journalists to embrace entrepreneurial endeavors that capitalize upon their knowledge, skills and broad connections. New technologies have opened doors to new opportunities. Journalists who once witnessed their innovative ideas wither and die within the management of deadline-driven newsrooms have found new life within a collaborative entrepreneurial ecosystem comprised of game developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, educators, investors, artists, filmmakers, etc.

The three day event is expected to bring more than 100 journalists, technologists, bloggers, educators, hackers, funders, community activists, designers, social entrepreneurs, and others who care about telling stories in diverse communities.  The format provides attendees with the opportunity to discuss those topics that are most pressing, while creating effective projects that bring real solutions.

“We have two main goals,” Ferrier said.  “One, is to bring together a dynamic, diverse group of participants who can examine the shifting media landscape for journalism entrepreneurial opportunities. Two, we want to leverage the knowledge network we’ve created to advance systemic changes in the distribution of funds, resources and knowledge to people and communities of color for journalism enterprises.”

—————————————

Dr. Michelle Ferrier is vice president of Journalism That Matters based in Seattle. She is an associate professor in the School of Communications at Elon University.  She is also the founder of LocallyGrownNews.com, a a hyperlocal website focused on allowing citizen journalists and community members to build their community conversation through good local information and networking.  You can read the NABJDigital profile of her here.  For more information and to register to attend Create or Die 2, visit the website at http://createordie2.org.

Posted in Education, multimedia journalist, Social Media, Uncategorized

Listen to NABJDigital’s Hyperlocal Websites: Are They The Savior Of Local News?

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

Last night, the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force hosted a BlogTalkRadio show entitled “Hyperlocal Websites: Are They The Savior Of Local News?” Our guests were:

Our guests were:

  • Dr. Michelle Ferrier, an associate professor at Elon University in the School of Communications. She is the developer of a demonstration project called LocallyGrownNews.com, a hyperlocal community platform and service model focused on local food conversations. She is also a steward in Journalism That Matters, helping to spark journalism entrepreneurship nationwide.
  • Holly Edgell, one of two regional editors for Patch.com in Metro St. Louis where she is currently hiring 12 local editors, each of whom will be in charge of covering news for a community new website.  Before joining Patch.com, Edgell taught journalism at the University of Missouri and Florida A&M University. She also worked as a television news producer in a number of cities, including Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
  • Shawn P. Williams is the founder, editor and publisher of the nationally acclaimed and highly recognized DallasSouthBlog.com now known as Dallas South in June of 2006 where he serves as publisher and editor. The website has been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, NPR, BBC, and many other national outlets and is designed to promote positive images of African-Americans in the media.
  • Mike Green is a journalist-turned-entrepreneur with 14 years experience in media. He’s a New York Times Leadership Academy Fellow with training at CNN.com and he led award-winning online experiments in local community engagement for the Dow Jones Local Media Group.

We had a spirited and informative discussion on future directions of hyperlocal websites.  You can listen to the complete show here.

Posted in Education, Entrepreneur, multimedia journalist

NABJDigital Profiles Dr. Michelle Ferrier of LocallyGrownNews.com

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

Michelle Ferrier, courtesy of ANAC

Editor’s note: please join the National Association of Black Journalists’ Digital Journalism task force for our next BlogTalkRadio chat – “Hyperlocal Websites: Are They The Savior Of Local News?” – tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern time.  Click here for more details.  I hope you can join us!

Dr. Michelle Ferrier is an associate professor at Elon University in North Carolina, where she  teaches in the iMedia graduate program.  She was one of the chairs of the Journalism That Matters conference, held in Detroit in June that focused on entrepreneurialism in journalism.

Ferrier is the creator of LocallyGrownNews.com, a hyperlocal website focused on allowing citizen journalists and community members to “focus on what they are most passionate about – building their community conversation through good local information and networking.” The website is an online community and mobile application designed to foster conversations around the locavore movement and uses the eating locally movement to generate conversation around sustainable, healthy lifestyles.

NABJDigital: How did you come up with the idea for LocallyGrown News?

Michelle Ferrier: The original idea came out of the McCormick Foundation’s New Media Women Entrepreneur proposal for grants.  I created a project that provided tech, content, shared marketing and shared promotion systems to create small hyperlocal online communities run by women.

ND: Why did you think there was a need for a website like this?

MF: I felt this system was needed. I wanted a way to package all the things an entrepreneur would need to get started.  It was actually born out of survivor’s guilt.  I created this online community – MyTopiaCafe.com – at a legacy newspaper. I left after several rounds of layoffs.  A week after I left, my whole team was laid off. I wanted to support those laid-off workers and create something similar for them.

ND: How does LocallyGrownNews.com work?

MF: First, those interested in developing a website can contact me. We did a soft launch in May.  We started by developing sites in Greensboro and Winston-Salem, N.C., to see what it would be like and test the technologies used.  This is a women’s community news franchise and we picked this topic to start because of the growth in local food movements. Local food will increasingly get more attention in creating jobs to grow local economies.

ND: What in your background do you think led to the creation of LocallyGrown News?

MF: I had three majors in college.  I started out in engineering, which gave me the computer science I needed.  Then I went into business, where I got accounting and marketing knowledge. Finally, I went to journalism.  All three gave me a good base for a future as an entrepreneur.

ND: You won a grant from the McCormick Foundation. How important was that funding for LocallyGrown News?

MF: The grant was for $10,000, which was used to cover development costs.  Those costs alone for can be staggering.  I looked at existing platforms, both free and charged.  But to really develop the online community I wanted, I would have to build my own platform, and that seed money helped me create my vision.  The content management system itself is extremely robust.  It runs on an engine that some newspapers run. It’s a very robust platform for print export that you won’t find on Blogger or WordPress.  It’s not a blog.  If someone is looking for a comparison, it’s a mashup of Facebook, WordPress and online news sites.

ND: What advice would you give to others who might want to apply for this grant in the future?

MF: One, you have to be very comfortable with your vision and promoting that vision.  In order to be able to talk to anyone about your idea — like venture capitalists and foundations — you have to have a clear idea of what you’re doing, why and who you’re serving.  My goal from the start was to ensure that laid-off female employees have an advantage in the market for entrepreneurship, and provide them with a product they can work with.  Be passionate about what you’re doing.  I’m committed to women entrepreneurs, local foods and local communities, and am making that commitment.  I am committed beyond financial enrichment for myself.

ND: Why do you think that journalism entrepreneurship has become so prevalent in conversations on where our industry is growing?

MF: One, because I think traditional legacy media have been retrenching as new and entrepreneurial activities grow.  In terms of innovation and products, some are doing that, but some have lost that innovation spark.  We want to offer opportunities after layoffs and severance packages.  Journalists have a set of skills that can serve a community, but no outlet to do it.  The market is ripe for these opportunities now.  Technologically, tools are way more sophisticated now than when online communities were first developed.  Communities and management systems are so much more sophisticated.  The cost and other barriers to entry are significantly lower, so it’s a great time to consider entrepreneurial journalism projects and apply them to online media.

ND: You’ve announced plans to expand LocallyGrown News. Who is the ideal person to take on growing this site?

MF: That person would be either working part time in legacy media or freelancing. We’re looking at females with a broad journalist background.  We want someone that has the desire to grow and own a business, someone with hustle to make things happen. Those people also have experience with consulting and can do marketing.  On a good day, our footprint is smaller than a county area, so we need someone who can provide niche content and also has an interest in eating good food.  But it’s also broader that just food – we’re also looking at sustainable, economic living with a focus on food.  We offer opportunities for advertising and revenue that are untapped.

ND: How important has social media been in promoting the Locally Grown News websites?

MF: We have a Facebook fan page to cultivate a different audience for those who want LocallyGrownNews.com in their neighborhood.  I’m using Delicious to curate and archive articles for a user library of resources.  I use Constant Contact to push out email newsletters each week. I use Google Analytics and the Open X ad server management system to manage ad campaigns on the site.  We’re adding new tabs that are resources, including using Google Maps to show a directory of farmers markets.  Our site allows readers to create a profile so people can see them across the community, a comment function, social bookmarking to push content and a Rate This function.

Posted in Education, multimedia journalist, Social Media

NABJDigital Leads Discussion On The Growth Of Hyperlocal Websites

By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group

On Sept. 3, I wrote an NABJDigital post discussing a series of articles and blog posts on the past, present and future of hyperlocal websites, which are being touted as one of the possible saviors of journalism.  As I wrote the post, I thought about members of the National Association of Black Journalists who had their own experiences in creating and maintaining hyperlocal websites.

So I thought this would be a great topic to cover in our monthly BlogTalkRadio chats.  We will  broadcast “Hyperlocal Websites: Are They The Savior Of Local News?” on Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern time.  Our guests will be:

  • Dr. Michelle Ferrier, an associate professor at Elon University in the School of Communications. She is the developer of a demonstration project called LocallyGrownNews.com, a hyperlocal community platform and service model focused on local food conversations. She is also a steward in Journalism That Matters, helping to spark journalism entrepreneurship nationwide.
  • Holly Edgell, one of two regional editors for Patch.com in Metro St. Louis where she is currently hiring 12 local editors, each of whom will be in charge of covering news for a community new website.  Before joining Patch.com, Edgell taught journalism at the University of Missouri and Florida A&M University. She also worked as a television news producer in a number of cities, including Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
  • Shawn P. Williams is the founder, editor and publisher of the nationally acclaimed and highly recognized DallasSouthBlog.com now known as Dallas South in June of 2006 where he serves as publisher and editor. The website has been featured on NBC Nightly News, The Chicago Tribune, CNN, NPR, BBC, and many other national outlets and is designed to promote positive images of African-Americans in the media.
  • Mike Green is a journalist-turned-entrepreneur with 14 years experience in media. He’s a New York Times Leadership Academy Fellow with training at CNN.com and he led award-winning online experiments in local community engagement for the Dow Jones Local Media Group.

I hope you can join us on Tuesday, Sept. 28 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. Eastern time.  It should be a lively discussion, and we’ll leave plenty of time for your questions.