Course syllabus

Entrepreneurial Journalism in the Digital Age

Fall 2010

Ken Dodelin and Steve Buttry

Sept. 1 – Dec. 6 | Mondays, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Clarendon campus – Room 234

3101 N. Wilson Blvd.; Arlington | next to Clarendon Metro (Orange line)

Course description and overview

This course examines the media landscape to help students answer the critical question:

How should you approach your media career in the rapidly evolving digital age?

Case studies, readings, media surveillance and guest lectures will help students develop an entrepreneurial view of their careers, with particular emphasis on how to grow audience, distribute content and monetize with smart business models. Journalists who understand these issues will be better positioned to make informed career decisions and to discern opportunities in a range of media-related industries.

The coursework involves a broad examination of issues affecting media careers, as well as focused research on a subject area of the student’s choosing. Students will learn – through reading, analysis and experimentation – how to drive their own success or to maximize their opportunities within a larger media company.

The final project will consist of a detailed competitive analysis and formal business plan outlining audience, content and monetization strategies. The target can be a new website or refining an existing one.

Course objectives

Students will:
1. Learn effective and applicable media/business research techniques with an emphasis on the distribution and monetization of content
2. Investigate how individuals and media outlets develop content and business plans
3. Display their learning in classroom discussions, weekly writing assignments and the final project
4. Develop and debate ideas using a collaborative, interactive team approach
5. Conduct market research and think entrepreneurially to map out possible career paths

Course schedule (instructor(s))

Weds., Sept. 1 Intro (KD & SB)
Course introduction, objectives and preliminary team building
(*Georgetown follows a Monday schedule on Weds., Sept. 1)

Sept. 6
No class (Labor Day)

Sept. 13  Terminology (KD)
Terminology, structure and opportunities in media

Sept. 20 Traffic / Metrics (KD)
Key metrics in new media: The what, why and how of measuring traffic

Sept. 27  Audience (SB)
Defining audience: Who we target and why

Oct. 4 Traffic / Metrics #2 (KD)
Key metrics in new media: Real-world scenarios and what it means for you

Oct. 11
No class (Columbus Day)

Oct. 18 Defining Content (SB)
Developing and delivering the right content for your audience.

Oct. 25  Monetization 1 (KD)
Monetization: Building a viable business plan

Nov. 1 Monetization 2 / Hyperlocal (SB)
Monetization: Going beyond advertising revenue
Metrics Assignment Distributed

Nov. 8 Distribution and SEO (KD w/potential speaker)
Distribution: Search engine optimization (or how to make Google like your work)

Nov. 15 Mobile (KD)
Distribution opportunities and business models in mobile

Nov. 22  Social Networking #1 (SB)
Engagement and social networking: Facebook, Twitter, Mashable and more

Nov. 29  Social Networking #2 (SB)

Dec. 6  Final Presentations (KD & SB)
Final projects and presentations

Required readings and materials

Weekly, online readings will be assigned during the semester.


Graduate course grades include only A, A-, B+, B, B-, C and F.

Final grade breakdowns follow this structure:

A 100-94
A- 93-90
B+ 89-86
B 85-83
B- 82-80
C 79-70
F 69-0

Percentage weight for each component of the class:
Assignments – 30%
Class attendance and participation – 20%

One of:

* Two Small Projects                                     50% (e.g., WalletPop, Demand Media, or Associated Content submission and evaluation of performance, class blog participation (2 blog entries and 3 comments minimum), OR

* Final Large project –                                   50%
Total                                                                100%

If you are taking this course on a pass/fail basis (for a satisfactory, S, or unsatisfactory, U), you must earn a solid B or higher.

No incompletes will be accepted for this course. Students must complete all work by the final class meeting day, Dec. 6.

Class attendance and participation

Active classroom participation is an essential part of this course. It is strongly recommended that students attend all class meetings in their entirety. Students will lose class participation points if they fail to attend class or if they fail to participate in class proceedings. More than one absence will have a significant impact on student grades.

Late work

Deadlines are critical. Late work will be accepted (for credit) only for a documented medical reason.

Contacting us

Best way to reach us is via email. We’ll distribute contact information at the first class meeting.

Office hours

Available by appointment.

Syllabus modification

In rare instances, the syllabus might need to be altered, and we retain the right to do so. In those instances, we will give notice of those changes in a timely manner.

Georgetown Honor System

We expect all students within SCS to maintain the highest standards of academic and personal integrity in pursuit of their education at Georgetown. Academic dishonesty in any form is a serious offense, and students found in violation are subject to academic penalties that include, but are not limited to, failure of the course, termination from the program, and revocation of degrees already conferred.

As a condition of taking this course, all students are held to the following Honor Code: In the pursuit of the high ideals and rigorous standards of academic life, I commit myself to respect and uphold the Georgetown University Honor System: To be honest in any academic endeavor, and To conduct myself honorably, as a responsible member of the Georgetown community, as we live and work together.

Ethics Statement

As signatories to the Georgetown University Honor Pledge, and indeed as good scholars and citizens you are expected to uphold academic honesty in all aspects of this course. You are expected to be familiar with the letter and spirit of the Standards of Conduct outlined in the Georgetown Honor System and on the Honor Council website. As faculty, I too am obligated to uphold the Honor System and report all suspected cases of academic dishonesty. More information.

University Resources

o MPS Writing Resource Program (Lauinger Library, 217A; 202-687-4246)
o Academic Resource Center (Leavey Center, Suite 335; 202-687-8354;
o Counseling and Psychiatric Services (One Darnall Hall; 202-687-6985)

Academic Resource Center

If you believe you have a disability, then you should contact the Academic Resource Center (202-687-8354) for further information. The Center is located in the Leavey Center, Suite 335. The Academic Resource Center is the campus office responsible for reviewing documentation provided by students with disabilities and for determining reasonable accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and University policies.

Writing Center

The Georgetown University Writing Center is a free writing resource open to all Georgetown students. Graduate and undergraduate students trained in teaching writing are available to assist you at any stage of your writing process. Whether you are just beginning to brainstorm or revising a later stage of your work, our goal is to provide a collaborative center for the discussion of writing. The Writing Center offers assistance in topic development, general organization, guidance on paper revisions, and specific or recurring structural problems with writing. Consultants are not trained to proofread papers for grammar or spelling errors, but rather to help individuals improve their own critical thinking, revision, and editing skills.

About Steve Buttry

I am Director of Student Media at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication.
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