New degree program in Entrepreneurial Journalism

CUNY has announced a new program for a masters’ degree in Entrepreneurial Journalism.

CUNY to offer nation’s first Master’s degree in entrepreneurial journalism:

Faculty members are developing courses for the new M.A. degree. The courses, which will be pilot-tested next spring, are expected to teach business and management skills, the new dynamics of news and media economics, and technology and project management, with apprenticeships at New York startups. Upon approval by the New York State Education Department, the first entrepreneurial degrees are expected to be awarded in the spring of 2012, to students currently enrolled in the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

The School also plans to open the courses to mid-career professional journalists who would earn a new Certificate in Entrepreneurial Journalism upon completion of the program.

In my bag today

I’m already imagining the syllabi for the courses I’d like to teach for this program or one like it. There’s nothing I love more than teaching and making people do homework. Read this! Do that! Produce material, which I will then judge with harsh, forthright, useful kindness and the implacable grading system of Google Analytics! Sounds like heaven.

Quite a lot of the people who could competently teach such courses already work in the industry, and speak at conferences where an aspiring digital journalist can pick up knowledge — knowledge you can also get by having a job, or getting a blog and taking it seriously. I wonder what it will cost people to get a higher education in Official Digital Journalist Stuff? Also, the snarky part of me thinks it’s hilarious that academic journalists, and the print journalism industry which is notoriously falling on its ass right now and complaining about it endlessly, are going to professor up and teach people how to do something that no one yet knows how to do. So while I do love the idea of this program on many levels, it still makes me giggle. I have a masters degree… IN BLOGGING.

Oh no, here come the Bloggers

Despite that, it’s inevitable and maybe not all bad that new fields will professionalize partly by academic fields being created. I have mixed feelings about academia and its claiming of legitimacy while perpetuating elitism and control. I do love research, discipline, editing, and learning in an academic environment. University education, from professorial oversight and associating with other students, taught me intellectual discipline that I wouldn’t have gotten as an autodidact. But the manufacturing of value, the arrogation of authority, and academia itself as an industry, made me feel a little sick. It’s worth doing but it’s certainly worth questioning.

I’ll be very interested to see what comes from the Entrepreneurial Journalism program! I hope for new experiments in local news production and distribution; and in ways that investigative journalists can make a living — maybe some of those will be successful.

This weekend I was looking at an interesting journalism project: CrowdVoice. CrowdVoice makes it easy for people to set up a news subject, whether it’s a specific incident like the Oakland protests of Oscar Grant’s murder or a more general subject like women’s rights in Iraq. There is a site tour that explains how to use and read the site, as well as how to submit content, whether it’s a link to an existing article or material a citizen journalist wants to upload, like a video, an interview, or a written report. My own preference in reading news is for a more linear interface that presents a lot of news at once, so I can read and scroll without having to click, but that could be possible by some clever combination of CrowdVoice with other tools that would use its feeds.

Related posts:

Small press in a box

I met David Merritt at linux.conf.au in Wellington, New Zealand earlier this year. He had a table in the exhibitor’s hall on Open Day and was making tiny books there with his son. He was carrying around Landrover Farm Press in his suitcase. His idea is that publishers should carry their means of production with them in a box. I got instantly very excited! I’ve been making xerox zines since 1986 and carried that forward over the years to many small press poetry books and journals as well as riot grrl zines.

fabulous poet

David was taking the poems (previously printed or xeroxed), cutting them out at the table, stapling them into inside-out hardback book covers, pasting a label for his press on the inside cover, and then stamping the book titles on the front cover with alphabet block rubber stamps while chatting with his customers. Here is his “press in a box”:

david merritt's means of production

Most people were buying a tiny book called “Geek Prayers”. I bought one for 5 bucks.

outside front cover of geek prayers

The poem itself made me think of Len Andersen’s “Beep“, a parody of Howl which I put up on the web a few years ago with his permission. Like Beep, it attempts to include computers, technology, and the experience and culture of the Internet into poetic experience, but unlike Beep it pushes into the territory of embodying that culture. All it needs is a web site where you can print and construct your own version…

As I looked over my hastily constructed Geek Prayers book, the cleverness of its design struck me.

This poem is structured in separate phrases rather like the giant sentence that’s the first section of Howl. The sections can be in any order, which is pretty handy for the book binding. The last part of poem is printed and cut out separately and glued to the back cover. You could print out the double-sided pages of poem snippets on a sheet of paper, then cut them across and fold them in any order. I thought this was a very clever way of avoiding fuss in the page-collating and binding process by using randomness. It is in itself an excellent geek solution for a geek poem!

inside back cover of geek prayers

Here is the outside cover unfolded, showing how the inside endpapers of the original cover look when dissected, stapled, and stamped. Frayed bits of mull, endpaper, and the spine’s cardboard backing stick out like torn lace. One cover is stamped with a library mark and “discarded” giving a pleasant retro feel to a book that now sports its new and more meaningful rubber stamp marks. The poem has a sort of wistful history in its covers, a ghost existence underlying its new incarnation as a book. We are ephemera!

Of course David and I got to talking about publishing and poetry. As we talked he just kept giving me more books and showing me more poems, which I read instantly and which made my head explode. Most poetry leaves me a bit bored, if not completely nauseated. I get VERY EXCITED when a poem is fabulous, weird, thoughtful, unexpected, out there, or has anything at all FREE in it. As in a song, there has to be a break. A disruption between order and disorganization that exposes something. I like the arcs of big ideas, and I like supercompressed symbolist narratives, and along with it all, disruption of language and something new.

I think we babbled for a couple of hours about being our own movement, the unnamed inheritors of the Beat, just writing a ton and scattering it out into the world without any constipated fretting about copyright and Being Important. I went on an extended rant about wankery poetry scenes, stuckup expensive journals that no one reads except to figure out how to get in them and that become instant landfill, my old projects to wheatpaste poetry all over Austin — OPUS or OccuPations of Uninhabited Space (after Takver’s mobiles in Ursula Le Guin’s anarchic epic, The Dispossessed). And while I like Book Arts people I cannot really get into the idea of a book as a precious one of a kind handmade object. I like better to churn out sloppy handmade books, mass-production style, that are affordable enough for anyone to buy and read them, or that are cheap and easy enough for me to produce that I don’t mind giving them away.

At some point I wheeled away to beg the use of the linux.conf.au organizers’ office printer, then was able to hand David a big batch of my own long ranting poems and a few translations. I talked about F.A. Nettelbeck and the tiny books he prints called “This Is Important” and how I look for the books printed by Alta in the 70s and early 80s and wrote letters with Cid Corman about bookmaking and short poems. If you haven’t seen Cid Corman’s tiny books, he did so much more than Origin (which rocks… but I love little handmade books.) We talked about short poems and long poems, form and performance and spoken word. It was really nice and unexpected to have this conversation at a technical conference!!

Here is David’s “first friday in fifteen”, which is one big 11 x 17 sheet trimmed down the long side to fit inside the cover, and folded up from the bottom so that the entire very long poem is on one page.

friday out

And here is a copy of his poem “nice things”, to show how interesting endpapers can jazz up an inside-out book:

outside of "nice things" book

The poem “nice things” is totally fucking awesome!

the single unfolded page of Nice Things

I’ll write another post about my explorations of making inside-out books over the past few months, inspired by David Merritt’s books from Landrover Farm Press, along with a step by step guide on how to do some recycled bookbinding!

Related posts: