Sep 26, 2012

Investing in Media Innovation: a conversation with MADE: Turkey coach Fuat Sami of Lab-X

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Fuat Sami is an entrepreneur to his very core.

After finsihing up his secondary education at Eton College, Fuat followed his passion for business by enrolling at Tanaka Business School at  Imperial College where he earned both a BSc and  a Master’s degree. That opened up the doors at Helix Management Consultants, where he went on to lead business strategy for both local and international companies in Turkey, Europe and the Middle East.  His wealth of business consulting experience motivated Fuat in 20056 to set up his own company: the entrepreneur and investment consultancy firm, LabX ,  where he continues to engage with businesses of all kinds -  and not only helps them survive, but thrive.
Fuat is part of an international team of inspirational speakers and coaches contributing to the first 48-hour MADE: Turkey Weekend for Media Startups which kicks off on Oct 5 at Istanbul Bilgi University.  

At the end of the weekend, participants will get a chance to present their projects for possible further support from Lab-X and the GirişimFabrikasi (Startup Factory) at Özyeğin University.

Q1 - Turkey remains a challenging place for independent journalism. What role do you think digital news entrepreneurs have to play in an increasingly connected country?

 Digital news entrepreneurs need to take practical steps to help ordinary citizens have access to information about what is happening in he world and show them how to specially create safe online spaces for the exchange of ideas.

Entrepreneurs should remain to be the advocates of democracy and keep promoting social media platforms that enable people to catch up with the rest of the world. They should represent the leading mechanisim of freedom of speech as a civil right for the people.

Q2 - Like in most of Europe, Turkey's mainstream media is dominated by a few cross-media conglomerates. What opportunities do you think there are for grassroots media startups to challenge the status quo?

Grassroots media can compete with the conglomerates on every level. They have to offer a quality product and focus on innovation.

Q3 - Is it wise for entrepreneurs to take risks with digital innovations at time when many in the traditional media are struggling with it?

It is very important for entrepreneurs to be innovative. In today’s media market, traditional ways are getting boring and creative ones are now much popular. Thus entrepreneurs should be creative inorder to be able to generate pofits.

Q4 - What’s the single most important advice you can give to someone wanting to start a digital media enterprise?
The immediate action because digital media is on the rise and will definetly be a replacement for the convential methods.

Q5 - The MADE project is, so far, operating in the UK and soon in Turkey. How do you expect the project activities to differ in the various locations, particularly given the different economic and socio-political factors in the two countries?

Both countries will probably face similar challenges. However, the way the approach them may differ because people have different outlooks on life.

  • News entrepreneurs  can also join the conversation in the MADE Network Facebook Group  and follow @uclanmade on Twitter  for updates.

Sep 21, 2012

Media entrepreneurs get set for the first MADE: Turkey Weekend for News Startups

This much is clear: the participants selected for the MADE: Turkey Weekend for News Startups aren't cowards.
Launching a new business is never easy. But starting up a new media enterprise in the country which, according to the International Press Institute, has what appears to be the highest number of imprisoned journalists in the world takes real chutzpah.

"That courage shone through all of the more than 50 expressions of interest that came from throughout Turkey," said MADE founding director François Nel."Choosing amongst them was certainly not straightforward. But in the in end, we whittled the number down to 20. And they are all particularly talented. And diverse."

Here are some of the key numbers:
  • 66 is the percentage who have journalistic experience in the mainstream media

  • 44 is the percentage of women

  • 29 to 0 is the range of years of work experience in fields that include IT, film making, tourism management, art curating, public relations, marketing and education

  • 5 is the average years that the professional journalists have plied their trade 
At the end of the weekend hosted by Istanbul Bilgi University, the entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch for a place in the Startup Factory at Özyeğin University and for support from Lab X .

In addition, the MADE:Turkey participants will also have the opportunity to take part in DJCamp2012, a two-day data journalism workshop in November, that will be led by Megan Knight from the School of Journalism and Digital Communication at UCLan, home to the UK's oldest school of journalism.  "If there are some extra spaces available, we'll open up the workshop to others," said Nel.

While the discussions during MADE Startup Weekend will be subject to the Chatham House Rule ("We need to have a safe space for entrepreneurs to share sensitive information in confidence," said Nel), participants are being encouraged to share their own stories.

Throughout, the project activities are also be researched and, in the end, the team aim to share their findings in a series of MADE Insight Reports, said Nel. "We're doing our best to use the grant we got from winning the International Press Institute's inaugural News Innovation Contest to help as many news startup as we can to stay up." 

The MADE: Turkey Weekend for News Startup 2012 participants are:

Gökşen Çalışkan
Sevgi Demirkale
Mine Toker
Ahmet Vural
Halime Özçelik
Sabri Küstür
Efe Cakiroglu
Engin Onder
Arda Süar
Pinar Dag
Ali Bolu
Omer Denizer
Elvan Ozkaya
Hasan Şek
Okan Tansu

The MADE Project is a winner of the International Press Institute's News Innovation Contest sponsored by Google. The MADE: Turkey programme has been developed in collaboration with partners at Millyet newspaper and  Istanbul Bilgi University with contributions by the Startup Factory at Özyeğin University, Lab-X, Talk About Local and the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Henley Business School.

Sep 12, 2012

Find out exactly what will be happening at #DJCamp2012 with Megan Knight

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Earlier this month we spoke to the #DJCamp2012 co-host Megan Knight to find out the kind of invaluable data journalism skills will be on show when UCLan plays host the event on the 21st and 22nd of September. With a far spanning data journalism  career, Senior lecturer Megan Knight is no stranger to the art of scraping, scouring and churning out data to produce compelling stories and engaging visuals. She talks about her experience in the field and what will be on offer at #DJCamp2012.

What can we expect at DJCamp2012?
"The workshop covers the basic 'whys and wherefores' of data journalism, from why it's an important part of journalism to finding information in data form by looking at sources of data. On the second day, we will be looking at representation and actually working with data that has been found, to develop publishable data journalism material in whatever form it may take. We’re going to be focusing specifically on Google fusion tables, which is a publically available tool from Google, and in particular, mapping, which is invaluable in terms of developing things like interactive feautres where you can gather data from your readers and then represent it. So the workshop goes from a kind of conceptual workshop with discussions about what data journalism is and why it’s important, throught to practical hands on projects."

Are there optional workshops?
"There will also be a free optional workshop with ScraperWiki, which will look at the process of scraping data. This is essentially the process of finding and analysing data, cleaning it and reworking it in order to put it into the right forms and the right formats."

What do aim for participants to achieve by the end of the workshops?
"We aim that participants will be able to find and present data by the end of the workshop, not just in an abstract sence of 'here’s a sample of what you would do', but in a concrete sence of actually finding something that’s relevant to what it is they're currently working on, and then working through the workshop with that data. So the real goal at the end is to have projects that people can return to newsrooms with to develop it further and actually publish. So the idea is to really make it very hands on, very practical."

So before you entered the world of academia, you were a data journalist?

"I think I’ve been doing data journalism since before we called it that. One of my previous jobs was working on election coverage and census coverage in South Africa. We worked with scientists and programmers to showcase election results and look for correlations and changes between voting patterns, changes in the demographics, and development issues. We were working with these massive data sets of information to present stories about South Africa and stories about the country beyond the simple, 'Thabo Mbeki is going to be president' which was the case in 1999, to patterns in peoples voting, and fundamentally, stories about change. I looked at how we could correlate that what we knew about demographics, about income, about education, about language, facilities and services and so on with voting behaviour.
"That’s really, to my mind, an important part of journalism because it gives you a way into stories that weren’t necessarily the stories people wanted us to tell. Data is to me, not about numbers, but about the hidden patterns that numbers can make visible. To me, that was really interesting and since then I’ve always been very interested in data and information. Now I'm also interested in social media, the kind of information that’s available on the internet and also in collaborative data (projects where people tell you, as a news organization what is going on in their environment and you then map that). I recently finished a book on the impact of social media in journalism which incorporates a lot of information about data journalism, about crowdsourcing and things like that. So this workshop really fits in with my interests which I'm hoping to develop further and do more with."

The Digtial Editors Network (DEN) has combined forced with the MADE Project at UCLan to present two linked data journalism workshops on 21 and 22 September at the Media Factory in Preston.
DJCAMP2012 is a two-day workshop hosted with Paul Bradshaw and Megan Knight. The workshops will cover the key stages of data journalism, from spotting leads for data stories, to finding the data in the first place, interrogating it, and visualising it.
Over two days, aside from gaining practical advice, participants will have the chance to apply their learning through hands-on exercises with the help of international-recognised digital journalism leaders and trainers provided by the Digital Editors Network and the MADE project.
Scraping Master class is a four-hour workshop with ScraperWiki founder Julian Todd, 9:30-13:30 on Saturday, September 22 and will cover a range of topics from creating data extraction programmes to analysing existing datasets.
MADE blog followers can recieve a 30% registration discount by using the code DENdata

For more information and to register, visit: