What every journalist should know before starting a media venture

by vgimenez
Oct 30, 2018 in Miscellaneous

Given the well-known disruption in traditional media, more and more journalists are motivated to launch their own media outlets.

Many of them are "adventures" that defy an apparent adverse environment, according to the new e-book, "Microperiodismos II. Aventuras digitales en tiempos de crisis” (Microjournalism II. Digital adventures in times of crises), by Jordi Pérez Colomé and Eva Domínguez.

The authors gathered lessons gleaned from the experiences of 24 small projects run by Spanish independent journalists and communication specialists who have intended to serve a niche audience neglected by mainstream media, do a different kind of journalism or find a new way to make a living being their own boss.

In the e-book, a sequel to one published in 2012, the writers conclude that microjournalism is growing as "a real alternative to the crisis impacting the sector".

Perez Colomé, who also runs the blog Obamaworld, told IJNet that these projects "will neither be the solution nor the only thing that will be done.... The big difference is that today someone with a computer can get anywhere; they do not need [printing] presses, or sets, or antennas."

To decide which ventures to feature, Pérez Colomé and Domínguez selected journalism initiatives that had become the main source of work and income generation for their owners. In addition, they included projects that create their own original content, are independent from large groups and are produced by no more than 10 people.

The book is valuable because it exposes journalists’ lack of business acumen. Pérez Colomé and Domínguez highlight that "it is not enough to be a good journalist. You have to be a good professional all around" because "starting a digital media is not just doing journalism."

That’s because these journalists-entrepreneurs must do everything which is needed to make their projects grow. David Guerrero, head of Viu Molins de Rei, found that it is not easy to sell advertising if the only thing you know how to do is write. "Some greater knowledge of Web design would have also been handy," says the creator of this hyperlocal information website that serves a community near Barcelona.

Dany Rodway of the Diario Bahía de Cádiz, a local digital journalism project, says that he would have liked to have more "notions of commercial and business management" from the start.

The absence of such knowledge is resolved with practice, Perez Colomé told IJNet. "The ideal is not for a journalist to become an entrepreneur, but it’s important for him or her to be aware of his or her company, especially when the project is small."

In the case of the documentary project Contrast, one of its managers, Gemma García, believes the challenge lies in "achieving viability for the project" and "developing a long-term plan that fits with the rhythm of daily work."

The websites, apps, and printed or visual publications reviewed also demonstrate that "microjournalism" is becoming a good solution for many journalists who have lost their jobs as mainstream media continues to cut personnel.

Image CC-Licensed on Flickr via aenimation.

This post was written in Spanish and translated into English by Nathalie Cornet.