Learning to Deal with Change: Journalism Students Study Entrepreneurship

The journalism world is changing, and a new course at UT is helping students think about how they might carve out a niche in this evolving field.

Entrepreneurial Journalism debuted this fall as a special topics course focusing on business models of journalism start-ups.

Students in the course examine the pitfalls and triumphs that journalism entrepreneurs can face.

Melanie Faizer, journalism lecturer, is teaching the course. She recently completed a fellowship at the Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Faizer said she hopes the course becomes part of the journalism curriculum next year and is added to the university’s new entrepreneurship minor.

Faizer said she wants students to get excited about the opportunities entrepreneurship offers for journalists.

“I want the students to take away a sense of excitement about the possibilities in the industry,” said Faizer. “I want them to get an idea about the language around a start-up and gain a familiarity and comfort in the business.”

Even for students who don’t immediately choose to pursue entrepreneurship, the course provides valuable advice, Faizer said. Being able to think entrepreneurially is key to successfully adapting to the change and innovation that are transforming traditional journalism.

Senior communications studies major Luis Ruuska said he’s learning strategies that will help him be a forward-thinking employee wherever he works after graduation.

“If something isn’t working or being done as well as it could be done, I don’t want to just accept it,” Ruuska said. “I want to be able to critically analyze it using some of the skills I’ve gained in this class and assess where there is room to do things differently, in a more innovative, efficient way.”

Ruuska said it doesn’t take an idea that creates a million-dollar start-up to be innovative or entrepreneurial; being able to find a new or better way to perform a task within an organization also can be entrepreneurial.

Guest speakers with their own start-up companies have spoken to the class throughout the semester. These speakers have included local and national entrepreneurs.

Throughout the course, students have been developing their own business models to pitch at the end of the semester.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)