News Leadership 3.0

May 17, 2009

Entrepreneurs: Be humble egomaniacs

Mary Lou Fulton offers product development ideas at KDMC boot camp

Online innovator Mary Lou Fulton describes entrepreneurship as “learning to be a humble egomaniac” because you’ve got to believe passionately in your project and be realistic in your expectations.

Fulton, the former Vice President for Audience Development at the Bakersfield Californian, offered tips for successful product development Sunday at KMDC’s News Entrepreneur Boot Camp, including:

A developer may fail to make a strong case for her idea because she focuses on the “what” of the project at the expense of the “why.” “Focus on the why. When you pitch the why is what’s going to get people,” Fulton said. Ask: What problems are you trying to solve? For whom (consumers or funders)? What are the benefits of solving these problems?

—“Great products solve problems and meet emotional needs,” so it’s critical to identify those needs in developing a product and seeking funding.

Examples of practical solutions:
Saves time
Saves money
Better than current solution
Keeps me informed
Customized for me
Better customer service

Examples of emotional benefits:
Makes me feel more competent or in control
Makes me feel smarter (or seem smarter)
Lets me show off and look cool!
Affirms my identity/makes me proud of who I am

Define your target audience. Defining factors might include: geography, shared interests, life stage, demographics, economic achievement or psychographics.

Pay attention to the business side. Journalists tend to come from the “creative side rather than the business or revenue side. “This often leads to over investment in time, money and technology on the product design and presentation and underinvestment in the revenue and marketing strategies.”

“Good ideas, often fail becuase of lack of attention to the business side of things.”

Fulton’s advice: Find a partner or hire someone who knows the money side.

May 17, 2009

‘The thing we’re losing is far from perfect’

USC Annenberg journalism director Overholser offers 10 important observations about journalism today

Geneva Overholser opened Knight Digital Media Center’s News Entrepreneur Boot Camp Saturday with a terrific list of 10 observations about journalism. No. 3 resonated most with me. Here’s the full list:

1. “It’s the public. It’s the public, stupid.” Journalists need to hold themselves “accountable for the impact of what we do on the public.”

2. “Reinforcements are on the way” in the form of smart, creative students who are dedicated to journalism.

3. “The thing we’re losing is far from perfect.” The news industry “left out wide swaths of the community,” including women and people of color. “We didn’t listen. We created false equivalencies.”

4. “We need to keep the principles, not the rules.” And the last principle standing must be transparency.

5. “There are lots of legitimate ways of doing journalism.”

6. With props to Clay Shirky: “Nothing will work but everything might.”

7. Find ways to collaborate. Focus on what only your news organization can do.

8. Communities do need journalism. Play a leadership role in the community

9. “We are not alone.” Others, such as the film industry, are struggling with the changing media dynamics.
10. Help others report information, including non-governmental organizations on the frontlines.

Overholser closed with an admonition for those who are discussing the future of journalism:

“Resist the urge to pronounce. This is not a duel. It should be a debate about the next steps for journalism in the public interest.”

Overholser is Director of the School of Journalism at USC Annenberg School for Communication. KDMC is partnering with the USC Marshall School of Business and the Online Journalism Review to provide the intensive week long boot camp for more than a dozen journalists who are developing online news and information projects.


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Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

Get in touch with Michele at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

USC Annenberg School for Communication

McCormick Foundation

Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute


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