sbaumann_2014Most new journalism and communication graduates will likely be self-employed at some stage of their lives. Even if they happen to secure a sought-after permanent position, entrepreneurial skills are expected of them since the once clear-cut boundaries between editorial and managerial departments have faded. These changes in the job market require new or enhanced competencies that should be taught in the classroom. What better place than the MMEE blog to share thoughts and ideas on the necessary additions.

In his earlier MMEE blog post, Dr. Geoffrey Graybeal introduced the many facets of entrepreneurship including start-ups, incubators, and crowd funding (click here to read Dr. Graybeal’s thoughts). These concepts are new to many students and are likely to generate a variety of questions, including:

  • What does it take to be an entrepreneur?
  • Where do business ideas come from and how do I find the viable ones?
  • How do I get funding?
  • What should I expect the entrepreneurial process to be like?
  • How do you win a pitch for a contract?
  • Why do so many ventures run into problems and how can I avoid failure?

The good news for educators is that teaching entrepreneurship offers infinite opportunities for fun in the classroom. By simulating real-world media settings, facilitators can provide the hands-on training craved by digital natives. With this in mind, there are also a number of challenges that need to be addressed:

  • How to cover all relevant theory if you do not have a strong business background?
  • How can you train students to read a balance sheet?
  • How can you teach complex management skills?
  • How to get entrepreneurial research ideas approved by IRB?

One possible solution is to team up with a colleague from the business school and co-teach the class. Having real-life cases greatly enhances the classroom experience, but consideration should also be given to finding media practitioners that are specifically researching an interesting problem on an agenda that coincides with the semester in which you are teaching. Case study teaching may offer an alternative to traditional lectures, while simultaneously providing near-life settings. While other challenges exist, our MMEE community is full of ideas and potential solutions, and we should make sure to share them with each other!

Entrepreneurship education also comes with administrative challenges. Many accrediting bodies do not yet regard it as an integral part of the journalism and communication curriculum. Despite this, some positive changes are already on the horizon. In Germany, the Organization of Journalists (Deutscher Journalistenverband) has now openly requested the introduction of more entrepreneurship topics into the journalism education curriculum. This was after a recent study found that a student’s career can be limited as a result of deficient entrepreneurial skills. Of course, we as educators do not need to wait for all accreditation issues to be resolved before introducing a piece of entrepreneurship into suitable modules.

Another issue frequently raised regarding entrepreneurship education in journalism is ethics. Can an entrepreneurial journalist or communicator still be independent in reporting and commenting? How much entrepreneurship is appropriate? It is important for us as educators to be a part of this discussion and to educate our students to be aware of these challenges.

The MMEE board is already preparing exciting teaching panels on entrepreneurship education for the next AEJMC annual conference in Minneapolis. Also, the teaching resource section on the MMEE blog shares ideas on both how to have fun in teaching entrepreneurship while avoiding possible pitfalls. We hope you will consider contributing to our teaching resource site, and this important discussion on teaching entrepreneurship in the classroom.

Dr. Sabine Baumann is a professor at Jade University of Applied Sciences in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. 

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