Blog Post

Helping Journalists Become Hackers and Entrepreneurs

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Journalism schools are useful for many things, including research into ethical standards, traditional skill development, and so on. Increasingly, some journalism schools are focusing on building their students’ digital chops and entrepreneurial spirit alongside interview etiquette and the correct use of off-the-record comments. One of the most recent projects in that vein is called Local East Village, a joint venture between New York University’s journalism school and the New York Times (s NYT) that launched on Monday.

The website describes the venture as an attempt to “help foster a journalistic collaboration with a third partner, our neighbors in the East Village,” and to “give voice to its people in a wide-reaching online public forum and create a space for our neighbors to tell stories about themselves.” As NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen — who helped create the project — notes in his blog post about the launch, the area of the city that the site aims to cover is already well-covered by local blogs, but the LEV site states that it hopes to bring the “academic and intellectual resources of NYU [and] the vast journalistic experience and high professional standards of The Times.” The LEV site also adds that:

We hope, too, to provide innovation: For years now the lines between those who produce news and those who consume it have become increasingly blurred. And so we hope to bring our readers even more into the process of producing news in ways that few other sites have tried before.

One of the most interesting features of the project is what it calls the “Virtual Assignment Desk,” which is an application — essentially a plugin for the WordPress blog-hosting platform, which the site uses to publish its content — developed by a team led by Daniel Bachhuber, who is the digital media manager for the City University of New York graduate journalism school. The plugin makes it easy for anyone who wants to contribute to the site to see what stories or events need to be covered so they can volunteer. Readers can vote on the topics or news stories they want to see covered as well. A video intro to the service is embedded below.

The LEV project started life last year as one of two hyper-local experiments by the New York Times: one in New York and one in New Jersey. The latter site folded earlier this year and was absorbed by Baristanet (a local blog network), while the New York project was expanded to include NYU and became Local East Village. The site is definitely entering a fairly crowded field; not only are there plenty of local blogs, but there are other hyper-local content options as well, such as (a local news aggregator), not to mention AOL’s (s aol), which has ambitious expansion plans. Not surprisingly, some of the response to the NYT project from other local outlets has been less than positive.

Whatever the risks, it’s refreshing to see schools like the NYU J-school trying something different in the hope of giving students some real skills — both business, journalistic and digital — that they might be able to use when they leave. Turning out typists and videographers for a dwindling number of jobs at traditional media outlets doesn’t seem like a great use of a journalism school’s resources, although many continue to do so (and not everyone is a fan of NYU’s entrepreneurial bent, as suggested by some recent comments from the Columbia School of Journalism).

NYU isn’t the only school to take the entrepreneurial tack: in Toronto, the school of journalism at Ryerson University has set up an incubator-style “digital media zone” that provides working space and resources for anyone developing a startup or service that involves digital media.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): What We Can Learn From the Guardian’s Open Platform

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Yan Arief

4 Responses to “Helping Journalists Become Hackers and Entrepreneurs”

  1. Hi there,

    My name is Sahara Starr and I am about to release my first mu album.

    It’s a culmination of years of personal effort and I have spent my life’s savings to produce it myself. If you’re interested, please check out a sample at < one of my tracks plays there automatically so please turn up your speakers (it may take a moment to start playing).

    I am looking for partners to help me promote my album. I am willing to donate a portion of the revenues to a charity of your choice and/or give the funds directly back to you in the form of commissions.

    Additionally, I'd be willing to consider doing some free photo modeling or video spokesperson work for your company, if you have that need for any products or services related to your website. I would do this in exchange for your support, such as announcing my album on your site using the animation you see at the address above or a banner I could make to your specifications. Also, if you are amenable to it, perhaps we could somehow include an announcement in any email correspondence you have with your user/member base – however it would be done, we could discuss a revenue split on any reasonable basis. :)

    Finally, when you go to my site, you will see a really cool CD animation. I have the ability to create this custom animation for any artist and if you\'d like to resell that service and earn more commissions, we can discuss that as well. As you will see, the CD booklet for my album is 16 pages, but I can create an animation like that one for 4, 8, 12, 16, or 20 pages, all custom made for any artist, producer or record label.

    Thanks for reading this and feel free to contact me any time at [email protected]

    Warmest regards,
    Sahara Starr