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Summit demonstrates entrepreneurial journalism coming of age

Jul 15, 2014

Ohio University’s Dr. Michelle Ferrier, associate dean for innovation at the Scripps College of Communication, talks about how the Scripps Innovation Challenge reaches students inside and outside of the classroom with co-working spaces and expert speakers at the Entrepreneurial Journalism Summit on Thursday, July 10. Photo credit: City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.

Summit demonstrates entrepreneurial journalism coming of age

Ferrier presents on media entrepreneurship initiatives at OHIO

ATHENS, Ohio (July 15, 2014)—Educators teaching media entrepreneurship say they’re not trying to create the next big startup. Their goal, said Dr. Michelle Ferrier, associate dean for innovation in the Scripps College of Communication, is exposing students to the entrepreneurial mindset that will help them innovate wherever they land after graduation.

More than 60 educators, including Ferrier, from across the U.S., Nova Scotia, Mexico and Austria gathered at the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Journalism on Thursday, July 10 at the Journalism Entrepreneurship Educators Summit to share best practices, concerns and collaborate as what was a fringe movement to change journalism curricula has now come of age.

From new courses in the curricula to extracurricular innovation challenges and partnerships with the larger startup ecosystem, educators presented a depth and breadth of approaches and challenges to teaching entrepreneurship to communication students.

Ferrier has been at the vanguard of the growth in media entrepreneurship. As an assistant professor at Emory & Henry College in Virginia, she developed one of the first media entrepreneurship classes in 2000. The course required students to launch a business using online multimedia tools.

“In 2000, my students were using Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver to create online-only businesses. It was the only time in my academic career where I had to force students to stop working on their ideas and leave the lab at the end of class.”

Now, 14 years later, and with stints inside higher education, in professional positions with new media product development and as an entrepreneur, Ferrier is excited to see the growing interest and activity around media entrepreneurship. As associate dean for innovation at Scripps College, Ferrier is working with international and national educators to bring more visibility to media entrepreneurship activities within and outside academe.

“My philosophy has shifted as I learned more about students, their mindset and the changing media landscape. I now believe we should reach students early and often with the message of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship,” said Ferrier.

To that end, Ferrier is looking for ways both in and outside the classroom to expose students to entrepreneurship. At the summit at CUNY, Ferrier shared the Scripps Innovation Challenge at Ohio University as a pathway for student exposure to media entrepreneurship. The competition, open to all Ohio University students, has a prize purse of $25,000.  She also shared a two-week mobile development module, developed out of feedback from last year’s competition, that helped both students and faculty get up to speed on how to design business opportunities around mobile technologies.

At Ohio University, Ferrier continues to work closely with the Center for Entrepreneurship, TechGrowthOHIO and the Innovation Center to develop more and varied pathways.

“Not every student needs to start their own business. But the skills they learn as an entrepreneur—using failure as a learning tool, listening deeply to customers, iterating quickly, working collaboratively—are all skills that are valuable to employers. Students with exposure to entrepreneurship opportunities are highly marketable when they leave the university with a passion for communication and the ability to innovate.”

- From staff reports