by Shai Sachs, Fri Sep 21, 2007 at 03:17:34 PM EDT
Yesterday, Jeff Jarvis announced that he's been awarded a two-year, $100,000 grant to fund entrepreneurial journalism. Jarvis is a journalism professor at CUNY, and has many years of experience in media and media criticism, having worked at Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, the Chicago Tribune, and a whole host of other venues. This semester, Jarvis is teaching a course on entrepreneurial journalism; his students design entrepreneurial projects meant to shake up the world of journalism. The $100,000 grant will go to seed some of the top ideas from the class.
Jarvis should be commended for his project on entrepreneurial journalism, and I think this grant soundly affirms the importance of the project. Entrepreneurial journalism attempts to find new ways to make journalism sustainable and relevant in our cultural and economic climate. This idea is incredibly important to the progressive movement. After all, the present crisis in media is really the combination of two troubling trends: one, the increasing militancy of conservatives in bullying and taking over purportedly objective media; and two, the decreasing number of resources devoted to high-quality journalism, partially the result of the media conglomeration of the 1990's. These are monumental problems for progressives, as they immeasurably contribute to the strength of the conservative movement.
Indeed, journalistic entrepreneurialism has a very comfortable home in the progressive movement. Every progressive blog, to some degree or another, is an exercise in journalistic entrepreneurship. Innovative projects like ePluribus Media, Assignment Zero, and Real TV were started by progressives or have goals explicitly focused on spreading progressive ideas through journalism. As interesting as some of these projects are, I suspect that Jarvis's students will come up with still more ground-breaking sustainability mechanisms for full-time journalism, and I'll be very interested to see the results.
For tonight, I'd love to hear about other projects I haven't listed here. What have progressives been doing to create new, sustainable, entrepreneurial ways of doing journalism? Some of the most obvious sustainability mechanisms - volunteer power and donations (ePluribus), crowdsourcing (Assignment Zero) and subscription-based journalism (Real TV) - have already been tried, with varying degrees of success. What other ideas can we drum up?