Hope on the Horizon? Report Spotlights the New Entrepreneurs of News

A Way Forward: Solving the Challenges of the News Frontier, a report of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education, assesses the road ahead in which entrepreneurial journalists—some just out of college, others veterans of newspaper and television work—are finding success with enterprises that might have been scoffed at or seen as impossible only a few years ago.

In an environment where the traditional media are attempting to find their way in what is arguably the most troubled time ever for the news business, there are new and vibrant models sprouting up on a regular basis that tell a story not of crisis but of optimism: the rise and success of the news entrepreneur. 

Emerging from the comments of leaders of news organizations ranging from Politico, GlobalPost.com and Politifact to the Wall Street JournalNew York Times and the Associated Press is a composite sketch of the new entrepreneurs of news:  Ambitious women and men who understand that the business model is changing and that they must not only gather and report the news but also find new ways to disseminate and market it. Today’s journalists, the report indicates, must be comfortable on all platforms and place a premium on being closely—and often constantly—connected to their audiences.

The report is based on a two-day journalism education summit convened by Carnegie Corporation in February at the Paley Center for Media in New York City where news professionals gathered to exchange ideas with 150 faculty, deans and students from 12 of the nation’s leading journalism schools.  The message to students from news professionals was clear: if they can continue to practice and refine their craft across a range of media platforms from video and text to audio and photography—and write snappy, SEO-optimized headlines—they may flourish in the news business.

The Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education has three components: 1) revitalizing journalism school curricula; 2) immersing top students in an innovative and in- depth campus based news incubator project called News21; and 3) providing a forum for journalism deans on policy issues and a resource for journalism educators.

In September 2010, a group of these entrepreneurial journalism students, participating in the Carnegie-Knight Journalism Initiative in partnership with the Center for Public Integrity,  produced a package of 23 investigative stories analyzing recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board over the past 40 years and calculating how many accidents have happened – and how many Americans have died -- because agencies, states and industries have resisted safety measures.  The students’ work was published in The Washington Post and msnbc.com and is thought to be the largest investigative reporting project ever produced by college journalism students.

Printed copies of A Way Forward can be requested at externalaffairs@carnegie.org.