Young journalists should learn how to write a business plan


I stepped into uneasy ground when I graduated from college last year.

For a host of reasons, not least of which are a recession and free falling print industry, freelancing isn’t the surest bet for this young journalist. Likely not for you either.

Job prospects are rare and uniquely competitive now.

So, of course, it’s the perfect time to start your own venture. Will it fail? Maybe, but when you’re young, with fewer responsibilities, the chance at making something of your own is a wonderful one.

But first things first, you need to be able to write a business plan.

Yes, even journalists — really, few things are more connected to the American spirit than entrepreneurship, so anyone ought to be able to take a swing at one, I say. (That freedom is a great value of freelancing, though it’s surely mitigated by frustrations and struggles)

With the media industry in such flux, anyone who claims to know the future of news or has a monopoly on the rise of social and new media, he’s lying. That means your young ideas, connecting to how you and your peers get their news, are likely just as valid and valued as the most experienced news executive.

What’s more, though many newspapers remain profitable, there is no questioning the world needs to rethink the structure of media organizations. There’s no better way to do that than see thousands of new models launched, if only because a handful will survive.

I’d love to see more devoted college courses teaching young journalists how to combine their love of writing and reporting to profitability and sustainability.

Some schools are doing this. My alma mater Temple University has an Entrepreneurial Journalism class taught by savvy George Miller, himself a freelancer, but much more needs to be done.

If you’re freelancing or even underemployed or wrongly employed, what’s stopping you?

Two friends and I are trying to grow I’m helping with and others. There is a reality that they may never reach fiscal viability, but we’re trying to create profitabile news environments again. That’s something everyone should take an interest in. has developed itself something of a reputation for housing hundreds of business plans — many available for free, others for cheap. I modeled TP’s roughly on an old magazine example, though modified and detailed to be sure.

Find a friend, a colleague or seek out a like-minded party and try something, anything. Will yours be a community-funded non profit? Will it aggregate or create content? Will it survive on sponsorships or something else? Will it print or will it be Web-based?

The best way to distill those thoughts are in a business plan. Feel free to reach out, I’d love to hear about your idea.

7 thoughts on “Young journalists should learn how to write a business plan”

  1. Totally agree and don’t understand why more journalism schools don’t go down this route.
    As you so rightly say the traditional opportunities in journalism are vanishing but new media is opening up fresh avenues.
    However you need some business planning skills to take advantage of them.

  2. If I teach magazine writing at Rutgers-Camden in the fall (if our schedules line up), the business of magazine writing will be a sizable part of the course. It has to be. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you can’t sell your work, it means nothing.

  3. Thanks for the link to the website. I am a recent graduate of j-school and also interested in starting my own media company. My school provided very little on the business side of journalism, or rather, the new reality of the journalism business. The assumption was that you would either get a job as an editor or be able to make a living as a freelancer magazine writer, but both of those career paths are quickly becoming unlikely and/or unsustainable.

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