Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Journalism Certificate of Achievement Breeds New Hope for Future Journalists

By Kaiyo Funaki

Illustration by Jennifer Yin/The Guardsman

The department of journalism and the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at City College have collaborated to create the Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Journalism Certificate of Achievement, the first of its kind in California, available starting in Spring 2021.

Proposed by Curriculum Committee Chair Craig Kleinman, the program encourages interdisciplinary pursuits by combining the writing and communication aspects of journalism and applying it to the business and marketing industry.

“The objective here is to let students see other opportunities that they could participate in, not only as a freelancer, but…to start their own consulting company or copyright firm,” CEI Faculty and Program Lead Vivian Faustino-Pulliam said.

Over the course of at least two semesters, students must take a minimum of 18 units to receive the certificate, 12 of which are required. The mandatory classes include Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Applied Design Thinking for Entrepreneurship, Design Thinking, Introduction to Marketing, and News Reporting and Writing. 

The final six units will come from a list of designated courses within the journalism department. These classes include Feature Writing, Newspaper Laboratory, Fundamentals of Public Relations, Internet Journalism, Investigative Reporting, and Introduction to Photojournalism. 

Students also have the option to complete their certificate with an emphasis in either freelancing or publishing. 

Should students choose to take Investigative Reporting and Introduction to Photojournalism as their last six units, they would receive an emphasis in freelancing. The selection of Newspaper Laboratory and the Fundamentals of Public Relations as electives would lead to an emphasis in publishing. 

Alex Mullaney, a former adjunct faculty member of the journalism department who helped draft and present the program, highlighted the purpose of the curriculum.

“The collapse of media organizations reliant on advertising has opened up the opportunity for entrepreneurial journalists to strike out on their own and serve communities,” he said. “The blend of courses will give students a foundation to build up their own business or a career at an organization… from influencer to content marketing to bonafide news journalism.”

Though this type of program is relatively new in the U.S., the symbiotic relationship between journalism and entrepreneurship may help revive a field that has long been considered to be in decline.

“Newspapers are dying unfortunately, there are far fewer print papers and the whole business model has changed,” Kleinman said. “This is a chance to really educate people, give them a strong foundation at City College, so that they’re out there educating others…while also building a career for themselves in a field that is changing.” 

Matheus Maynard, a journalism student entering his fifth semester at City College, expressed the need for journalists to reinvent themselves in a struggling industry. 

“One of the biggest challenges journalism professionals face is making money. The skill and training on entrepreneurship is essential because it will allow journalists to adapt and innovate their craft and find new ways to make money out of it,” he said.

Timothy Hill, another student with a vested interest in journalism, echoed a similar sentiment in the necessity for journalists to adjust to an ever-dynamic environment.

“Journalists need to be able to be as resourceful and marketable as possible, especially when the freedom of the press is being questioned and rolled back under the current administration. As traditional newspapers die out, more and more folks of all ages are relying solely on online publications of print publications,” he said.

Though the Board of Trustees approved the certificate this past February, it still has to be presented to the State Chancellor’s office before becoming an officially recognized certificate.

A decision will likely be made sometime in the fall, though organizers are confident it will be passed and have continued to prepare for its imminent approval.

A website detailing the specifics of the certificate should be available in the near future, and promotional material will begin to circulate during the fall semester.

The Guardsman