Entrepreneurial Journalism is No Oxymoron (II)

Mark Glaser calls the entrepreneurial acumen of journalists into question, but most start-ups fail, in any industry. He and others in comments give examples of those who’ve succeeded. This on the heels of Jeff Jarvis’ entrepreneurial journalism contest, which, if it works, will help seed a new generation of journalists not encumbered by the need to have a “job”. I’ve taken a fairly traditional route, myself, getting an MBA before becoming truly entrepreneurial. But then, I’m 1 or 2 generations away from most of the folks proposing projects to Jarvis’ contest.

There are a few advantages they have over some of the older folks like Dan Gilmor or Bill Scoble that Glaser sites as having failed, chiefly that they are not as wedded to older ideas of what a journalist is or can be, and don’t necessarily think of “entrepreneurial journalism” as an oxymoron. Some may say that true journalism can’t be entrepreneurial, because a journalist should not have commercial concerns. (If you worry about whether to put an ad on your site, or where, that will affect how you display the content, for example.) And the anxiety of being laid off can be debilitating, while the sense of charting one’s own destiny and earning money from folks who are actually consuming the product, rather than an in-between entity, can be liberating.

There is something else that can be a challenge for many journalists: I’ve found successful entrepreneurs to be relentless optimists, skilled socially (at least when necessary), willing to make hard choices even when it’s not fair, and not being stopped by unfairness directed at them. Journalists, but contrast, are often a bit negatively oriented, and gripe about things that haven’t gone well -- newsrooms are full of, if not malcontents, certainly half-contents. Then, again, so are many workplaces. There is a such thing as a postive-minded journalist, and I hope entrepreneurial journalism isn’t an oxymoron.

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