Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Getting entrepreneurial with it

This summer I am prepping to teach Entrepreneurial Journalism for the third time. In this course, student journalists develop their entrepreneurial side, and think about the different ways they can leverage their ideas and expertise to create a web-based publication. We do several projects, culminating with a competition at the end of the semester, in which students present their web projects in five-minute pitches to a panel of judges for virtual funding. This class is so much fun.

With many courses, a prof can tweak the syllabus a little bit each semester and she's good to go.

Not this one.

Each time I've taught it, I've had to rejigger the syllabus to accommodate emerging technologies and to examine the challenges and opportunities they present to us as journalists. Last September, it was social media and the way it helped us connect with sources and build an audience for our work.

This fall, we'll also be looking at e-books, self-publishing and tablets.

It's not turning out the way people thought it would. Not long ago, many were predicting the death of narrative non-fiction as a result of the web. People said: Who's going to read beyond a single screen?

Then came the e-reader, like Amazon's Kindle and the tablet, like the iPad. They've sparked new publishing channels created new opportunities for the journalist who wants to do his or her own thing. Jon Krakauer chose to publish his 20,000-word expose of Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson on a site called Byliner.com. He's now selling it as a Kindle Single, and, in the audio version, on I-Tunes.

Kindle Singles allow you to self-publish and sell short pieces--as you'll see here, even New Yorker writer Susan Orlean is getting into the game.

I'm  looking at Smashwords as well. And here's a great post on mediashift by author Carla King on The Easiest, Cheapest, Fastest Way to Self-Publish Your Book. 

Back to work!

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