Tag Archives: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

Discussing Ethnic Entrepreneurship

As some of you have guessed, I’m interested in both media and entrepreneurship. That’s the reason why I attended “Ethnic Entrepreneurship & Starting Strong,” a discussion panel organized by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ,) the Tow-Knight Center and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

The panel was composed by Hong Qu, CTO of Fusion Media,  Daniel Bentley, contributing Editor at CircaJuan GuillenFounder & CEO of LatinTrends Magazine and Mariana Marcaletti, founder of Latin American Radar.  The panel was moderated by Chris Dell, cofounder & Editor-in-Chief CUNY Sport Report and Tow-Knight Fellow.

The panel shared insights and key points into the creation of sustainable media projects, as well as talking about their experiences as entrepreneurs. The discussion centered around the use of new technologies and tools to build innovative and efficient news platforms.

“If you want to make money, create something people create a habit from,” said Hong, who worked as Product & UX Lead at Upworthy and YouTube. “Millenias will be consuming media in a very different way, they will use every platform.”

Besides addictiveness, Hong also named content personalization and simplicity and convenience as keys to stronger user/reader/viewer engagement. He believes that if a reader takes more than three clicks or three seconds to get what he wants, he will jump to the next website.

The panelists agreed that online platforms and mobile technology will become even more fundamental to the future of news and information.

“Make it cross-platform, make users embrace new versions of the product, and start building fast and now,” said Dell.

“Capitalize on the time people spend on their phones,” added Bentley. “There you have it, a one on one relationship with your reader…through a phone.”

However, some believe that in order to make a solvent and self-supporting medium, new technology was not the only way to go.

“There are immense opportunities in the digital world, but we also live in an offline world, that’s where print can be powerful,” said Guillen, whose magazine, Latin Trends, focuses on Latino entertainment . “With a magazine, it becomes what coffee is for Starbucks or what a hamburger is for McDonald’s. In our case, print is our tool.” 

Guillen also said that money, although important, should not be the only motivation to create something.

“Money is very important, however is the wrong angle,” he said. “Your main goal is to serve the community better. Money will come later.” 

The event took place at Fox News Latino at Fox News Headquarters. (Of which got a behind the scenes tour and briefly met Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who is currently in the middle of a controversy.)

I encourage students to participate more in this kind of events, where you can learn not only about the current trends in journalism, media and technology, but also you can network with working journalists and people involved in the industry. (Personally, I do not enjoy networking that much, but I can’t deny it’s extremely beneficial nowadays.)



A Demo Night for Media Startups

Pizza, soda, and the business of journalism were the glue and motivation behind the media startups demo night organized on March 20 by the Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

With diverse styles and methodologies to the world of publishing, five local startups showed off their latest innovations and projects while briefly talking about the current trends seen in media.

“It is kind of an amazing time to be doing anything related with content, whether you are a journalist or a marketer,” said David Spitz, President and CEO of RebelMouse, an online platform that allows users to combine social media content into their websites. Some of its clients include Time magazine, NBC news reporter Ann Curry and General Electric, among others.

Although demo nights are usually used as platforms to launch new startups and pitch their ideas to investors, this particular event highlighted the work of these young media companies, who are experimenting with business models that are quite different to those used by traditional media.

“Even if people don’t necessarily have to pay for content, if they understand what you are doing and like what you are doing, they will be interested in supporting,” said Thomas Rhiel, founder of BLKNYR, a two-dollar-a-month, subscription-based online publication that creates in-depth and interactive stories about underreported topics, communities and areas of Brooklyn. “People can read about Brooklyn, but I think we have established a voice that people are responding to, ” he also said.

Besides the novelty of these economic models, originality and resourcefulness in regards to content distribution and design were also common traits among the exhibiting startups.

Two of them were: 29th Street Publishing, a magazine publishing company that develops simple-yet-attractive mobile applications for small and freelance writers and independent editors and Howler, a crowdfunded magazine about soccer that is published only four times a year, but that has increased its popularity thanks to its artistic illustrations, a modern design approach, and the use of well-researched articles about the history of the most popular sport in the world.

The innovations presented in areas such as content creation and distribution, businesses and design were also of key interest to those who attended the event.

“It’s amazing how these small startups are using all these modern tools to create beautiful and interesting projects,” said Giancarlo Castiglioni, a graphic design student at Queens College. “Journalism is not my major, but you can really see how these new mediums are working harder and harder to innovate and change the industry. I think it’s somewhat of a revolution.”

Educating Media Startups

Bankrupt newspapers, increasing consolidation and the threat of top-ten lists taking over journalism, have brought a sense of restlessness to the already divisive conversation about the future of the industry.

And with journalism schools trying to keep pace with the changes, some institutions have become experimental grounds for a new type of media, opening channels of innovation and providing young graduates with tools and empowerment to become media entrepreneurs.

“The idea behind our classes is to prepare people to build their own startups successfully,” said Jeremy Caplan, Director of Education at the Tow Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. “But also, we prepare people to be leaders in the new generation of media.”

Created in 2010, the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism offers a Master of Arts and a semester-long Advanced Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism. The program has become a media incubator for successful projects such as Narrative.ly, a platform specializing in long-form journalism that was named one of the 50 Best Websites of 2013 by TIME magazine.

The center prepares students in areas such as business, marketing, social media and technology immersion. Apprenticeship programs, mentoring and development of each student’s projects are also fundamental, all while keeping track of the innovations in media.

“It’s very exciting to be in one of the golden eras of journalism in terms of the dramatic changes in distribution,” said Caplan. “The capabilities to get great content into the hands of people are becoming very quick, cheap and successful.”

This optimistic school of thought contrasts with the notorious organizational changes seen in traditional companies, who keep reducing staff and cutting budgets. Examples of this include established media companies such as Time Inc., CNN and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., which have had massive layoffs in the last six months alone, according to the Poynter Institute.

However, Caplan believes that this situation can actually benefit those journalists who are able to understand and take advantage of the current situation of the media.

“There is an explosion in opportunities available,” he said. “Part of it is technological, part of it is the changes on how people consume media…the consumer will be less passive and more interactive.”

Exploring and understanding the current trends in immersion and interaction between consumer and content provides an access point for those interested in testing the new waters of journalism. Mastering tools and adopting trends such as social media, infographics, data visualization, user experience design, among others, can help new media entrepreneurs to differentiate themselves from their competition.

But these tools are only as good those who use them, says Caplan.

“Students need to have a passion or media skill around a particular subject area. They need to have some sort expertise around it and make sure they can share it with other people,” he said. “Because that’s what really it going to help them stand out, no matter what they are doing.”

Photo credit: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism