Apr 15, 2015

Here's what we found when we took the pulse of the journalism entrepreneurship ecosystem in the UK

There are a number of reasons why the Journalism Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by Google at Campus London on 27th February 2015 was remarkable.

Yes, it was the first forum of its kind to bring together entrepreneurs, funding and support agencies, policy makers, educators and researchers. But the story doesn’t end there: The workshop, which was sponsored by the Media And Digital Enterprise (MADE) project at the University of Central Lancashire and convened in collaboration with the International Press Institute and Talk About Local, had the ambitious aim to take the pulse of the journalism ecosystem in the UK.

Of course, a one-day workshop is all too short to surface the full range of relevant issues, acknowledged the convenor François Nel, now also a Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

“I wish it had been possible for us to involve more voices, to listen even more closely to those passionately and creatively working to drive innovation in this space, and to spend more time deliberating what may be done next,” wrote Nel in the interim summit report entitled, Talking the Pulse.

 “That said, over the course of the day we were able to draw on the knowledge and experiences of more than 70 engaged individuals with a wide range of experience, expertise and perspectives. Thus it was possible to get at least some idea of the critical issues affecting both the quality and velocity of journalism entrepreneurship, and for that I would like to thank everyone involved.”

Whatever other insights a closer examination of the grain of the discussions at the Journalism Entrepreneurship Summit might bring, Nel said there should be no doubt about this:

 “Digital-savvy journalism entrepreneurs operating at different scales and levels of intensity and in a variety of genres and formats are now a standard feature on our news media landscape and they make an essential contribution to meeting the critical information needs of our communities. Hence, any conversation about the media in the UK – whether in classrooms, boardrooms or committee meeting rooms – that fails to seriously factor in this segment of the industry cannot be considered comprehensive.

 “Perhaps it’s time to go even further? Perhaps it’s time to draw a line in the sand and to declare inadequate any policy, any regulation, any legislation, any curriculum, any research agenda, any representative body, any intervention or any other initiative with ambitions to address the concerns of the news media in the UK and that does not devote substantial attention to new and emerging news enterprises, including (those definitely not exclusively) those operating at local and hyperlocal levels?

“Yes, the (not so) new news media enterprises are a standard and essential segment of the industry. Therefore, their well-being should not be taken for granted. If our journalism entrepreneurship ecosystem is to function at the scale, velocity and effectiveness required to meet the varied needs of society and to ensure the sustainability of the enterprises, there is much work to be done - and there is much need for greater collaboration amongst those at work in this space.”  

Just before the close of the Journalism Entrepreneurship Summit, five final questions were put to everybody in the room. Participants were asked to consider the day’s discussions and, based on a scale of 1 (very bad) to 10 (very good), to rate the health of each of the following components of the Journalism Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in the UK: the regulatory environment; the service and support infrastructures; and the operating environment. Finally, they were asked to give an overall rating. Responses were submitted by the participants via tablets.  Results were calculated live and displayed on the screen, updating in real-time.

The workshop participants rated the overall health of the journalism entrepreneurial ecosystem at 5.6 out of 10.  “A physician might interpret that as stable but with some significant risk factors, most notably in the areas of policy and support for entrepreneurs,” said Nel. “To achieve optimum health will the take even greater effort – and deeper collaboration – by all those involved.” 

The team involved in the first Journalism Entrepreneurship Summit are keen to continue to play a constructive role - and remain eager to connect others who do too

Here are some ways to connect:

DOWNLOAD the 24-page #JES2015 interim report at: http://bit.ly/jes2015takingthepulse

Nov 3, 2014

#JES2015 Open invitation to participate in the first Journalism Entrepreneurship Summit in London

The MADE Project may have been among the first initiatives aimed specifically at supporting news startups in the UK and Turkey. But, thankfully, we’re no longer alone. Over the last four years we’ve been joined by other groups, companies, charities and universities keen to understand and support journalism entrepreneurs. 

“Isn’t it time for us all to meetup and take stock?” asked MADE founder François Nel, who in 2011 became the only UK winner of the International Press Institute’s inaugural News Innovation contest sponsored by Google. 

Yes, said Alison Bethel McKenzie of the IPI. Good idea, said Sarah Hartley and Will Perrin of Talk About Local, who have also contributed to MADE activities. I think so too, said Deborah Fox of Nesta, the UK charity that supports innovation. I’m also keen, said Dave Harte of Birmingham City University, who has worked on the Creative Citizens project.

Let’s call it the Journalism Entrepreneurship Summit, suggested Nel. The others agreed. The team at Talk About Local signed up to help make the event happen with further support from McKenzie and Javier Luque at the IPI. 

They set a date - Friday, 27 February 2015 - and chose a location - London. The rest is still being decided. [UPDATE 19/12/2015 - Registration for the 60 places at  #JES2015 is now OPEN ] 

So, herewith an invitation to all those who want to contribute to any aspect of this question about Journalism Entrepreneurship: What we did, what we learned, and what we (all) might do next? 

If you'd like to participate, please register your interest HERE and send any questions, suggestions and proposals to François and the team at uclanmade@gmail.com.  You can also follow the conversation on #jes2015 @jpreneursummit. And please do spread the word to in your networks that share our passion.

Jul 11, 2013

#MADEinsights What can we learn from what we've been doing to help news media startups stay up?

It's been a year since we welcomed participants to the first MADE UK Weekend for Startups in Preston, which kicked off a series of workshops, coaching sessions and discussions with news entrepreurs in the UK and Turkey.

Now it's time to find out how everyone has got along - and to understand what else might be done to support media entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs like them.

To that end, the MADE project leader François Nel and MADE participant Michael Brightman, supported by University of Central Lancashire student research interns Emma Urjasova and Alex Neadley, will be spending some time over the summer contacting the participants.  The aim is to share what they find through a report to be presented at a workshop for all those involved - and those who would like to be.

 For more details about the study, or if you're a news entrepreneur or researcher who would like to contribute to the MADE Insight project, don't hesitate to contact the team at uclanmade@gmail.com or on Twitter.