Enterprise Project pitch and description

As I mentioned in an early post my enterprise project is about building up a free-lance journalism business. My main goal is to cover issues related to the environment and sustainability, using, but not exclusively, investigative journalism techniques such as data analysis and visualization.

Below it is possible to experience a pitch of mine about this project.

As I explain in the video, I would focus on the market of the media outlets, English  or Italian speaking, based in the European context. I am particularly interested in the new wave represented by new media start-ups, such as the Italian You-ng and Linkiesta, being good examples of web-focused publications and ones of the first italian media companies to be crowdfunded.

I am evalueting to focus on an European market because, even if it may result in a too big context, the niche and specific topic of Environment already make the market smaller, and considering that a lot of publications are used to write in English (for a small list see this website) in Europe, enlarging my possibilities to get more commissions. Anyway this means to have a good understanding of singular countries’ or cross-country issues, knowledge that I don’t have at the moment. 

The idea to do journalism out of a newsroom has frequently come across my mind during my experience as a local journalist, and I have always believed that the future of the news would have seen the journalists as indipendent from a particular media company and free to work on singular stories or projects. But doing some research I have stumbled on some problems regarding this kind of business to which I had to find answers in order to measure its viability:

  1. Is it really economically sustainable? a lot of people are actually struggling to work as freelancers and complaining about the general low payments and the often absence of a regular income. However, if on one side it is well know that a free-lancer life isn’t for old men, on the other one the layoffs in journalism are increased in Europe and US (for a better understanding have a look at this singular story), and part of this number turn free-lancers anyway. 
  2. What if I get an interesting full time job offer in the meantime? the good part is that if I get an interesting offer by a company I can carry on free-lancing with others. Otherwise I just can work on other energy-time consuming projects and still free-lancing without really renounce to do journalism.

The development of the idea have come slowly, week-by-week. From a few vague ideas about possible projects, I have decided to do something related directly to myself and how I put into practice the abilities that I am acquiring during this year. From this early stage of planning I have learned that being enterpreneurs means sometimes to change significantly your project according to its viability or the effective needs of the market.

Unlikely the final project would be the same that someone had in mind when started to plan. Some of the tools provided to help me on this process have been really useful, and functional to get more into the specific in some parts of the project. Indeed the combination mind-map/business canvas helped be to think outside the box before, in terms of partners, revenue streams, making the map as wide as possible, to then suddenly narrow every single part in chunks to have a more precise picture of the situation. This narrowing process may represent the essense of an entrepreneur activity, that should be innovative and forward-looking, but also able to keep every step in a sustainable and viable path.

The pitching tasks, although not so welcomed by me, have reveiled themselves like useful moments in the process. My reluctace derived from the fact that I wasn’t feeling ready to show something I was just planning to someone else until it was finished. But it has been indeed the same feedback from the other fellows that helped me redirect the free-lance activity towards the media outlests, rather that build a too miscellaneous kind of revenue compounded by different elements. This might result in something more sustainable in a shorter period. Additionally, repeating the same presentation of your activity in several pitches may be useful to spot some problems that you didn’t focus on.

As I said in the video my free-lance activity needs to be split in several steps. While I am still uncertain about the number of these, I have decided to firstly build up an on-line portfolio as a professional showcase and a blog. The blog would be the platform on which I can experiment, practice, try new kind of media to tell stories and engage with an eventual audience.

A next one would be the organisation of a sort of workshop for journalists or journalism students about environmental investigative reporting, inviting some top journalists in the field to speak about the practices of doing this kind of journalis. This may includes topics like the indicators to look at, the major official and unofficial sources, and so on. A good occasion to learn and, most importantly, to enlarge my own network.

I recognise that as a project it may not seem really entrepreneurial as this word is commonly accepted. As the entrepreneurial videomaker Adam Westbrook points out in this article, enterpreneurship is about wealth creation, while free-lancers still work hiring out their time to someone else.

Nothing really stops me to innovate the field at a certain point, and it is something that may come through the experience of the blog and the networking.

I’d really appreciate some kind of comments or feedback in case you have some for me. If you are a free-lancer and want to give some advises you are really welcome, or in case you think I am making a wrong decision please stop me now.


Entrepreneurial Journalism. #1st step: Blog!

The exploration of/on the field is demonstrating to be the best part of the Enterprise module so far. Perhaps, the ideal and maybe big project that you had in mind when asked to think about an enterprise activity has evolved so much during this period that now in the 5th week, you’d likely to have decided to take just a part of it.

But my case is different. My big project still stands on, but differently. After having investigated what I can expect from being an entrepreneur in journalism nowadays, the most part of the sources I have found converge on the fact that I MUST have a strong on-line presence. Which I have not. The book about the basics of entrepreneurial journalism, written by Mark Briggs has been really helpful in that.

This step comes before any business plan and any revenue model. In fact while the incomes working in such activity may be characterised by a variety of sources (I am thinking about custom contents for NGOs or other organizations, collaborations with newspapers or new journalism start-ups, crowdfunding for single projects, ecc..), without showing any capabilities in the field, it will be impossible to obtain any work proposal.

Additionally, a deep study of the ways to do good journalism in the enviroment sector has to be carried on in parallel. For this purpose I have found a few courses or workshops held, among which this course held by the Poynter’s News University attired my attention. Even if such knowledge can surely be built through the experience in the field, attending workshops or various courses of this kind may result in a speeding-up of the process and a deeper study of the niche audience that I refer on. 

Then it’s all about reputation as an eco-journalist and demonstrated quality the service. After having set the showcase on my activity I can at least hope to appear more interesting to any possible client, raise money for single projects by crowdfunding or even “sell” an eventual audience to an advertiser specialized in green products.

A last curiosity: can we see a shortage of environmental journalism in the UK as, what in the entrepreneurship world is called, an opportunity? 

Would you be interested to do journalism in this ever more pressing topic?