From Where I Sit: The Media Entrepreneurship Ecosystem


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Dr. Michelle Ferrier reviews the media entrepreneurship ecosystem and what we can do to fill in the gaps for content and technology startups. Includes ideas for higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations.

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From Where I Sit: The Media Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

  1. 1. Media Entrepreneurship  Challenges, Opportunities and the Role of Higher Education Dr. Michelle Ferrier Associate Professor, Communications Elon University, Elon, NC
  2. 2. The New Normal: Permanent Flux  “The pace of technological change will not abate. If anything, it will continue to increase. To think of this as a period of transition from one state to another is unwise. This might not be easy to address, but it needs to be addressed. How do we staff news organizations with the appropriate kinds of resources and the appropriate mindset such that constant innovation is imbued into an organization’s DNA and into the role of every participant?”  -- Richard Gingras, Google, Head of News Products.
  3. 3. Four strategic questions that frame the new challenges and opportunities for media organizations. Source: The Big Thaw: Charting a Future for Journalism, Deifell, 2009.
  4. 4. New Competitive Landscape How is the landscape changing? 
  5. 5. New Competitive Landscape How is the landscape changing? 
  6. 6.  We’re using GIS tools to create a “climate” map that tracks changes in the reach and depth of community news.  Media Deserts Using GIS tools, the research identifies “media deserts” -places where fresh news and information is lacking. We’re using open geographic information systems software. We overlay existing daily and weekly newspaper circulation data, demographic and community data and a network analysis of hyperlocal online news providers.  More than 120 newspapers have ceased operation in the United States since 2008. Our map will help monitor the system over time and focus attention and resources where they are most needed.
  7. 7.  Work with Journalism That Matters on policy issues and summits to address the information needs of underserved communities.  Worked as researcher on the Policy Research Information needs of underserved communities Communication Policy Research Network, headed by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The CPRN submitted a literature review and report to the FCC on July 16, 2012.
  8. 8. New Competitive Landscape What I’ve Learned  Dynamic nature of change requires better monitoring of media environment.  New technologies allow new players into existing media competencies. What Can Be Done?  Create interdisciplinary teams to bring new eyes to media/communication issues.  Develop environmental scanning tools to better evaluate threats/opportunities.
  9. 9. New Distinctive Competencies What new capabilities are needed to succeed? 
  10. 10.  Fellow, Inaugural Class: Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute at Arizona State University  AEJMC First Industry Forum Award for paper on media entrepreneurship.  Paper accepted to Journalism & Mass Media Entrepreneurship Research around the new news ecology, hyperlocal online news providers and curriculum development. Communication Educator: “Media Entrepreneurship: Curriculum Development and Faculty Perceptions of What Students Should Know.”  Secured two student fellowships of $3,500 each for students to intern at NY media startup accelerator programs in summer 2013.
  11. 11.  Began partnership with NewU in Summer 2011. Program provides minority entrepreneurs with $10,000 in startup funding.  Co-hosted NewUStartUp Loft at UNITY in Summer 2012. Conducted research with attendees and speakers/mentors about skills/knowledge training.  Program received $500,000 this spring NewU through UNITY The NewU program provides intensive, hands-on training to journalism professionals on creating and maintaining a media startup. in funding to continue programming at minority professional journalism organizations.
  12. 12. New Distinctive Competencies What I’ve Learned  Building a Team  Audience Analysis  Content Development  Pitching  Finding Investors  Market Analysis  Customer Development  Partnerships What Can Be Done?
  13. 13. New Sources of Value What needs can be met, problems solved or desires fulfilled? 
  14. 14.  We’re using GIS tools to create a “climate” map that tracks changes in the reach and depth of community news.  Media Deserts Using GIS tools, the research identifies “media deserts” -places where fresh news and information is lacking. We’re using open geographic information systems software. We overlay existing daily and weekly newspaper circulation data, demographic and community data and a network analysis of hyperlocal online news providers.  More than 120 newspapers have ceased operation in the United States since 2008. Our map will help monitor the system over time and focus attention and resources where they are most needed.
  15. 15. Entrepreneurship Ecosystem
  16. 16. New Sources of Value What I’ve Learned  Possibility journalism: Solutions-based approach  Slow News: Developing new processes for information gathering and dissemination. What Can Be Done?
  17. 17. New Business Models How are media organizations structured to capture value? 
  18. 18.  Received $10,000 in startup funds to create  Developed and maintain online community for news and information on local food and sustainability issues since June 2010.  As both an entrepreneur and a LocallyGrownNews A hyperlocal, niche online community about local food and sustainability issues. teacher/mentor, I’ve presented at numerous conference on media entrepreneurship and startup skills and knowledge.  Developed understanding of startup culture, developed relationships with foundations and national organizations committed to entrepreneurship.
  19. 19.  Participant, Block by Block Conference. Engaged with other hyperlocal online news operators on starting and developing businesses.  Contributor, E-Media Tidbits, Poynter Institute. Wrote articles on technology, ethics and operation of online communities. Hyperlocal Online News Shaping the new news ecology as a teacher/mentor/scholar and practitioner on new media issues.  Speaker: BlogHer BET, BlogHer Food. New Media Women Entrepreneurs Summit, speaker.
  20. 20.  Vice President: Journalism That Matters (2010 to present). Participated since 2008 in JTM gatherings.  Developed JTM “Create or Die” series of media entrepreneurship startup weekends held in 2010 and 2011.  Provided seed funding and Journalism That Matters An organization committed to advancing the new news ecology with news by and for all people. entrepreneurship mentors to teams that successfully pitched their project to funders and developer panel.  Partnered with NC entrepreneurship centers to provide continued support for NC projects.
  21. 21. 5 Concrete Steps for Media Innovation  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).
  22. 22.  The Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Digital Media  Creates an innovation laboratory, a physical retreat space for the mashup of journalists, technologists, educators, artists, community activists and others to reimagine news and information for diverse voices.  Stimulates participants by exploring the intersections of storytelling, art, technology and culture and the community, which are changing the practice and products of journalism through annual startup events.  Engages participants in sharing ideas and concepts and developing them through intensive teambuilding, idea development, design and build sessions.  Develops viable ideas that get pitched and vetted before a panel of programmers, funders, content developers, business leaders and marketers for concept refinement and funding.  Creates pathways to commercialization or social entrepreneurship models.  Creates a structure for engaging and mentoring students and seasoned professionals in envisioning media entrepreneurship as a career pathway.  Student Goals  Researches media entrepreneur community and alternatives to traditional media environments.  Supports students and professionals in creating and vetting new media business ideas.  Engages with real-world issues and needs surrounding the changing media landscape and growth opportunities.  Introduces students to the entrepreneurial thought process.  Creates and develops entrepreneurial ideas to pitch to student competitions as well as for foundation, angel and venture capital funding.  Faculty Goals
  23. 23.   Michelle beta tested early content management software used to power major regional newspapers when they ventured online. She is also one of the early adopters of online learning systems.  Educator Entrepreneur Mentor Scholar New Media Innovator Michelle Ferrier teaches journalism, interactive media and communication strategies at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina and holds a Ph.D. in Texts and Technology from the University of Central Florida and a master's in journalism from the University of Memphis. Since the development of listservs in the early days of the Internet, she has been involved in new media and particularly in the development of online communities and new media innovations. For more than three years, she worked as a lead researcher with the Banner Center for Digital Media in Florida and developed a core digital media curriculum for a higher education coalition in Central Florida. She was also a research associate at CREATE, the Center for Research in Arts, Technology and Entertainment at the University of Central Florida. She is a former blogger with Poynter Institute’s e-Media Tidbits, a weblog about emerging media technologies.
  24. 24.   Founder,; Twitter: @localize_nc  Educator Entrepreneur Mentor Scholar New Media Innovator Dr. Michelle Ferrier Associate Professor School of Communications, Elon University, NC;; Twitter: @mediaghosts For More Information on Media Entrepreneurship Vision:   chelleferrier-com/