Journalism and entrepreneurship are not two things that you generally put together but this class has taught us how those two can co-exist. But this class has taught us more than just the business side of media. Working on our very own startups was an extremely valuable project that has completely changed the way I think about businesses and the amount of research that goes into starting one. Along the way, we also got to talk to many professionals in the field of journalism and those who started their own businesses.
One of the most valuable parts of this class was the hands-on experience we got with pitching our ideas. It started early on in the class, when we began the whole startup pitching process. Each of us came up with our own ideas. Mine was for a daily news podcast and a few days later, New York Times announced its own daily news podcast!
This was our first of many presentations that we would give over the course of the class, and I can honestly say that I feel much more comfortable talking in front of people. The number of times we presented made us more prepared and relaxed with the concept of public speaking and being able to convey a message effectively.
Once we originally pitched our ideas we then voted on the best pitches. Then the top four vote getters got to interview the rest of their classmates and decided on who they wanted on their team. This was a good practice because it was a way to learn how to sell ourselves. I didn’t do a great job of doing that; I was selected dead last. Also known as Mr. Irrelevant in sports circles. But once in awhile Mr. Irrelevant becomes a very relevant part of the time and I was determined to do that myself.
Once I finally made the Pushpin team it was time to get to work, and we definitely had a lot of work to do. Our research started with an analysis of the competitive market to our product. It was the first time, among many, that we realized there is so much information to be found. This also came up when we began studying our target market and target audience, our minimum viable project and different forms of revenue. But as a team we were able to complement each other’s abilities and find the necessary information to at least have a grasp on the concepts we were researching.
Once we gathered all of this information we were finally ready to put it all together and to present our findings. Not only did we have the opportunity to share our research with our classmates, but we were also lucky enough to be selected as a Hatching finalist. The process of deciding what we would and wouldn’t mention in our presentations was very difficult. It made the process of presenting that much more rewarding. Hearing the reactions of the judges for both presentations was a new experience for us. We had never put ourselves into a situation like that before and to get instant feedback was a great feeling.
The pitching process was a very valuable lesson but we had many other lessons along the way. We were lucky enough to have special guests during the course of this semester, all of whom were very knowledgeable.
Donna Ladd was a very interesting person to talk to. The Jackson Free Press, which she founded, was a perfect example of a media startup. Talking to her about finding that need, deciding who to target the JFP to, and how to make money was informational and perfectly related to the tasks of the class.
Another great lesson we got was from Abigail Bassett. She is currently a freelance writer, and formerly worked with CNN. Bassett used her experience and informed us of the expectations of becoming a freelancer. She told us how we can pitch freelance ideas and what kind of wage you should expect to make as a freelancer. This information was something I had not been taught through my time here at Michigan State. I cannot thank Bassett enough for lending us her time to talk about that.
Overall this course taught me a lot about myself and how much I enjoy working in a team environment like this. Although I’m not sure if entrepreneurship is for me it is something I am more open to. It has also opened my eyes to some of the serious problems journalism is facing when it comes to generating revenue. But maybe our new found knowledge of the industry can help lead one of us to making the field of journalism more profitable.