3 reasons why journalists could make good entrepreneurs

December 13th, 2011

A few months back, I went full time with AdYapper, an early stage startup in the ad space. Since around that time, I’ve been thinking of reasons why I think journalists could make good entrepreneurs.
Why is this important? Newsrooms continue to lay off reporters, and starting a business could be a great alternative to a path in the communications field, which is where many journalists go once they’re done in the news business.
This is not a new concept. (In fact, we’ve blogged about it recently.) Since my time at Chicago Tribune/Tribune Company, I’ve been urging reporters to think of themselves as entrepreneurs within their beats, and within their newsrooms; however, I never really thought of just  why I think the very act of reporting and writing is entrepreneurial.  So I came up with a few reasons:
  • Expertise: The very practice of journalism requires knowledge of a space other than journalism. Other than writing and reporting. And if there’s something a reporter doesn’t know, they learn about it.
  • Hustle: This one really goes without saying.
  • Contacts: Journalists have the right to ask anyone any question, at any time. (Whether they respond is another story entirely.) Through it all, journalists develop great rolodexes, and if they’re good, respect — and a good working relationship — from and among their readers and sources.

I put out a call within my network, asking why they thought reporters could be good entrepreneurs. I got one answer: “Journalists can make great entrepreneurs. Our skill sets are tuned to detect and address relevant problems,” says Jason Goodrich, a former editor at the Chicago Tribune and now CEO of Shortlist. “We get to the ‘why’ by talking with people and analyzing the data. Maybe above all else, journalists tend to possess the right mix of idealism, skepticism and determination to bring useful ideas to life.”

Not surprisingly, Goodrich also thinks there’s a learning curve. “However, being a journalist does not qualify you for startup life,” he said. “Entrepreneurship is about building a sustainable business. Let’s just say that there’s a lot of math involved.”

Just something to think about.

-Daniel B. Honigman


What do you think? What are some reasons YOU think journalists could make good entrepreneurs? Do you have any examples of entrepreneurship within your newsrooms? Please leave your thoughts as comments below!

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Entry Filed under: future of media

  • http://alexisgrant.com Alexis Grant

    Yes! So important. I’m a journalist-turned-entrepreneur (though I’m still continuing to freelance as a journo). Loving it! I worried I’d miss a newsroom, but I feel fulfilled in so many ways. 

  • http://www.thesolopreneurlife.com Larry Keltto

    I started my working life as a journalist, and I agree that a healthy percentage of journalists have the raw material to be entrepreneurs. I worked with several who launched their own businesses. With the way old-media jobs have disappeared, many former journalists have been forced into it. 

  • http://beta.adyapper.com DanielHonigman

    Congrats on the switch, Alexis. What kind of company are you running these days?

    Would love to hear more about your experiences!

  • http://beta.adyapper.com DanielHonigman

    Thanks for commenting, Larry! What do you mean by “the raw” materials? Love to hear more

  • http://alexisgrant.com Alexis Grant

    Hey — I’m now doing a combo of freelance journalism, social media strategy and digital content creation. I find my writing and communication skills — particularly being able to spot “the lead” and communicate it in an interesting way — is super valuable. I write about all of this in newsletter: http://bit.ly/solosecrets. Cheers!

  • http://beta.adyapper.com DanielHonigman

    What about the  Your background naturally lends itself into the work you do, but what about the very practice of running the business itself? (e.g. drumming up business, running and growing a company, etc.) That’s more what I’m going for here.


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