"Entrepreneurial Media" comes to UT-Dallas

As a startup media junkie, I’ve been both pleased and bemused by the recent trend of academic institutions starting to focus and train on entrepreneurship in media. While such training can only be good, I’ve been frustrated to see most of the activity limited to the traditional Big Media Hubs — on the East Coast at CUNY; on the West Coast at UC Berkeley; and at J-school stalwarts like Northwestern and Arizona State.
Don’t get me wrong– I laud the work of all of these programs, all led by people I consider friends and titans of the industry. Their work is critical and trailblazing. I crib heavily from their playbooks.
But there are things I’ve seen in common that I’d like to diversify:

  • All are in traditional hubs of news, hubs that in the case of the coasts may be so cosmopolitan, large and media-rich as to be anomalous in scale, or at least of limited transferability to communities in Middle America.
  • All come directly out of a Journalism school. This is on face a good thing, as Journalism needs as many people focused on business models as possible. But just as I applauded startups with different models from my old Pegasus News; and just as I’ve long lamented the lack of sales folks at myriad “Save The News” conferences, I’ve longed to see a media entrepreneurship program drawing on an even more eclectic group — Crowdsourcing the problem beyond the core, so to speak.
A headshot of yours truly, so the EMAC folk can grab it for their blog

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that in the Spring semester, I’ll be helping to broaden that field of work by teaching Entrepreneurial Media in the Emerging Media and Communications (EMAC) Program at the University of Texas – Dallas School of Arts and Humanities. I’m fortunate that EMAC head Dean Terry and his team shared this vision and have worked tirelessly with me, first in seeking a Knight News Challenge Grant for this effort — and then in making it happen even without outside funding.

The Entrepreneurial Media course will be as much creation as class. Here’s the official description:
Students in this course will be part of a group that will conceive, pitch and execute a small-scale media launch. Topics covered will include identifying a market, setting up a company, sourcing talent, raising capital, communication strategies, choosing technologies and transitioning from startup to going concern. Each topic will feature real world examples and conference calls with media entrepreneurs from around the US.
This will be a very active program — more focused on doing than talking. The “only” textbooks will be my friend Mark Briggs’ Entrepreneurial Journalism: How to Build What’s Next for News and, well, the Internet. (Note that we’re by no means limiting ourselves to pure news projects, and will be relating the lessons across other media.) I’m going to be calling on everyone I know from my career in digital and local media, across advertising, technology and journalism — not to lecture, but to help us tackle real problems. Wherever there’s an intersect, I’m hoping to interface some of the projects professional media offerings here in Texas.
But the real gem of this program is the EMAC student base. These are scrappy, thoughtful, diverse learners who are collectively versed in media, marketing, news, technology, mobility and things that many people don’t yet even recognize as media. I can’t wait to see what they can create with our support.
My understanding is that we’ve already got about a dozen students enrolled, but there are a few slots left. If you know an EMAC student who wants to start something, send them our way.
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Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.