NEW 400/600 Syllabus

About the Course


Creating the Next News Startup creates a foundation for success in the rapidly changing news and civic-media ecosystem. It provides an overview of the major changes to the journalism industry in the past 15 years, including the creative disruption brought on by the Internet, mobile and now wearable computing, and helps you learn to be a proactive change agent in journalism.

The course approaches innovation globally, whether “interpreneurial” within existing news organizations, or “entrepreneurial” in news startups and non-profits. Coursework includes deep-dive analyses into innovative news startups, exercises in creating new product plans that address audience engagement and revenue, in-person and online visits with prominent journalism intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs, digital publishing exercises and hands-on experience with other cutting-edge digital tools and services.

This class requires development of a new product plan with the intent of informing and engaging a community of interest. Students are encouraged to limit the scope of their plans to products that deliver impartial information to a community of interest, as opposed to products focused primarily on advertising, persuasion (PR) or ecommerce but without an intent to engage or inform. Projects may and in many cases should include these elements, but they should not be defined by them.

Objectives and Outcomes

  • Understand the importance of innovation in journalism, both in terms of serving the news and information needs of an audience, and monetizing it for long-term sustainability.
  • Understand “the innovator’s dilemma” as researched by Clayton Christensen and the concepts of sustaining innovations, and disruptive innovations.
  • Understand the innovator’s mindset through guest lectures from current journalism innovators.
  • Gain awareness of the most current digital tools used by innovators.
  • Know how to build a prototype, pitch deck and business plan for a new journalism product.
  • Learn to collaborate with and lead members of a team with complementary skills (software engineers, business development, etc.)
  • Learn how to present and pitch your project to key audiences, including end-users, internal stakeholders and potential funders.
  • Learn about different options for funding a startup, including accelerator programs, angel networks, venture capital and crowdfunding.
  • Know your way around WordPress, various social media services and social media APIs, and eCommerce platforms.

By the end of the course, you will be able to confidently answer the following questions for any new product idea:

  • What is your product offering, and how will it work? How is it unique and innovative? How will it stand out from the crowd?
  • Who is the target market?
  • What data do you have to support the need for this product?
  • Who are the competitors? (“Nobody” is never the right answer).
  • Where are competitors succeeding? Where are they failing?
  • What currently-unmet information need will you meet, and how?
  • How will your project sustain itself over time?
  • If it’s a for-profit product, how will it make money? If it’s non-profit, how will you get your funding, and from whom?
  • How will you build and launch the product? Who will build it? Who will maintain it?

Download the  full course syllabus for the Spring 2014 session of NEW 400/600: Creating the Next News Startup.