In Latin America, where news entrepreneurs are among the only sources of independent news, a growing number of students are interested in learning the skills to launch and sustain startups. Yet fewer than 3 percent of the universities in Latin America that teach journalism and communications offer courses in entrepreneurship, a new study has found.
SembraMedia, a nonprofit devoted to increasing quality content and the diversity of voices in Spanish, conducted the study, “Starting Point: A study of entrepreneurial journalism courses in Spanish."
The researchers found that when universities offer entrepreneurial journalism courses, students flock to them. “We’re excited to see growing interest in entrepreneurial journalism among students and professors, and we hope this study will inspire more universities to offer these kinds of courses,” said ICFJ Knight Fellow Janine Warner, who cofounded SembraMedia. “It’s more important than ever for journalists to understand basic business and management.”
The study also explored the background and experiences of professors who teach entrepreneurial journalism in Spanish. Most bring deep, real-world experience into the classroom: The majority have more than a decade of experience teaching and working in media, and almost two-thirds have launched their own projects or startups.
A team of researchers led by Patricio Contreras, a professor at Universidad Alberto Hurtado in Chile, identified and surveyed 59 professors (48 in Latin America and 11 in Spain) who teach entrepreneurial journalism in Spanish. The team conducted in-depth interviews with 25 of them.
SembraMedia yesterday published the English translation of the study, which was originally published in Spanish last month.
Along with study, SembraMedia also published a toolkit with resources on teaching entrepreneurial journalism based on the in-depth interviews. It includes book recommendations, a list of experts and advice for staying up-to-date on the media scene.
The study sparked so much interest from news entrepreneurs that SembraMedia is helping launch a network of entrepreneurial journalism professors keen on strengthening teaching practices in Latin America and Spain by sharing resources and best practices.
By helping universities bolster their entrepreneurship offerings, SembraMedia hopes to empower a new generation of journalists ready to lead independent media organizations. “Our goal is to help these journalist-led media organizations have greater impact,” said SembraMedia Managing Director Mijal Iastrebner. “We believe collaborating with universities in Latin America, the United States and Spain, is key.”
Jennifer Dorroh is director of the ICFJ Knight Fellowships.