Five mistakes media entrepreneurs should avoid

by Soufyan Saudi
Oct 30, 2018 in Digital Journalism

In my previous article [in Arabic], I offered tips on how to start your own journalism project. Now, we'll discuss what must be avoided. 

Media entrepreneurs may face big challenges, and those challenges sometimes serve as distractions. This is why new entrepreneurs should lower their expectations and realize there is no guaranteed, immediate success. Also, they should not expect strong revenues or a large audience at the beginning stages of their journalism project.    

The following five mistakes are the most common among new entrepreneurs. You have to take these mistakes into consideration in order to avoid future problems that may adversely affect your venture.

Profit-centered policy

It is undeniable that most people focus their attention on making money, but if this is your primary concern at the beginning of a project, that's a big problem. Instead, focus your efforts on your target audience. You'll hit your profit targets eventually if you appreciate readers by producing good quality content.


Most journalism projects in the Arab world are criticized for their unduly imitation, which is a harmful pest to innovation and creativity. Although modern media has gained a foothold in the Arab world, it relies heavily on imitating Western media ideas with little innovation.   

Most important tools used in modern media come from the West. However, it should not be an obstacle to developing new tools. It should urge us to create better tools. As we all know, Western media ideas and activities target a specific audience. That audience might be different than readership in the Arab world. What works for them does not necessarily work for us.

Anyone who is considering copying Western media outlets should study the idea they want to borrow and make sure it will work within their community. However, if you can, refrain from imitation and try to come up with new ideas.

Lack of teamwork spirit

In my previous article, I dwelled on the importance of teamwork for a successful journalism project. However, teams can adversely affect your project if personal disputes arise among team members.

This situation requires you to bridge the gap between the disputing people. When clashes involve personal views, avoid chain arguments that may bring your project to the brink of failure. In such cases, you have to be unbiased, avoid taking sides and have good leadership skills.

Wasteful spending

If your glittering, early success brings you funding money, you have to be economically wise in spending every cent. And you should always remember that the granted money in your possession now should be spent in developing your project and not in covering your personal expenses.

Poor marketing

As David Ogilvy, the "father of advertising" said, “If you are not capable of advertising yourself, how successful are you in advertising anything else?”

Never try to convince others to use your media platform to advertise their products or services if you are not able to advertise your own. Media entrepreneurs know most revenue comes from advertising services. So if you're not able to create a wide and permanent audience, never expect other businesses to advertise their products on your media platform.

In May, IJNet Arabic launched a virtual mentoring center, choosing eight entrepreneurial journalists in the MENA region in need of financial and digital advice to get their startups off the ground. Soufyan Saudi is a participant.

This story was originally published in Arabic and translated by Shereen Karadsheh.

Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Shawn Campbell