New class teaches students to think like an entrepreneur

A new course in the Journalism Department is asking students to grapple with the big questions facing our profession: How do we get more people to read the news? How do we make accurate information accessible to wider audiences? How can we develop new revenue to support journalism?

Students present in the new Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship class
Students present business proposals in JOUR 385.

JOUR 385, Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship, gives students the opportunity to address these questions by planning and pitching their own app. In the process, they learn how to develop a business plan and identify opportunities to create sustainable journalistic enterprises.

Students enrolled in the first offering of JOUR 385 this winter, taught by Kim Bisheff, pitched their preliminary ideas to a panel of judges at midterm, then came back to the same panel during finals week with their polished proposals -- along with a full business plan.

“I learned that in order to create something successful, it’s important to be your own biggest critic,” said third-year Journalism student Grace Power-Smith. “And, In order to solve a problem for people, whether that be through a news article or a new business, you really need to get to know your community and how you can help them.”

Power-Smith and her partner, Yasel Hurtado, designed an app called Pangea News to allow readers to have access to international news free from the American perspective. Users would click on an interactive world map and receive a country’s top stories from their trusted news sources.

Another team focused on creating an app they called The Happs to inform middle schoolers about the news in a simple and easy way.

“Even if students never get to launch their own business, this class teaches them to have an entrepreneurial mindset that would be really useful to future employers,” said department Chair Mary Glick, who designed the course. “These skills are crucial to the success of our profession. We all know reliable news and information is under threat, and we’ll need innovative people to sustain our journalistic mission.”

By Ellie Spink

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