Need help finding income for your start-up news website? We have a boot camp for you

If you are thinking about starting your own online news website or blog – or if you’ve already made that move, but wondering where the money will come from – please consider applying for the second edition of our News Entrepreneur Boot Camp.

That’s right, we’re doing the camp again. The Knight Digital Media Center, in cooperation with OJR and the Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC’s Marshall School of Business as well as the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, will select a dozen or so journalists to travel to Los Angeles in mid-May for the camp. There, you will work together and in one-on-one consultation with camp faculty to hone plans for your project – and its financial success.

Lots of other journalism organizations have jumped on the entrepreneurship bandwagon recently. But long-time OJR readers know that I’ve been writing about entrepreneurial journalism for years, and that OJR put on what may have been the first industry conference solely devoted to the topic, back in 2006.

The KDMC Boot Camp is different from other industry gatherings, as well, in the one-on-one work it provides with accomplished entrepreneurs. This isn’t about bringing together a bunch of newspaper-industry executives to speculate about online entrepreneurship during one-way lectures. Like the medium you’ll be publishing, in this is an interactive experience.

During the last camp, USC Marshall’s Tom O’Malia, a successful entrepreneur and author about entrepreneurship, and I met with campers individually each afternoon, helping them refine their concepts and their pitches – to potential funders, advertisers and readers.

We helped them to see the difference between an audience and customers and to wrap their heads around what they’d need to do to begin a successful journey toward entrepreneurship.

We’re adding an extra day to the camp this year, and will be using that time to work with campers to develop additional “take aways” – marketing, advertising and/or grant application templates that they can use to help earn funding for their businesses, the moment that they step off the plane.

I’d like to invite all OJR readers to apply for the camp. The application will be available on the KDMC website. If you’re unsure about applying, I’d suggest you start thinking about two questions:

1. Why are you a person capable of starting a business?

2. Why are you a person capable or organizing and cultivating a community online?

If you have positive answers to these questions, you could be a strong candidate for the camp.

To conclude, another question for you. We’re working on the details of this year’s curriculum, and would love to hear from you names of individuals you’d like to see as faculty for the camp. Who are your role models in entrepreneurial journalism? From whom do you wish you could learn something – in person and one-on-one – about starting a business online? We’ve had success in bringing some of the top names in journalism and entrepreneurship to the USC campus over the years and would be happy to invite the folks our potential campers want to see. Drop names in the comments, or by clicking the “Contact” link at the top the page.

And if you think that you should be one of those speakers, please, don’t be shy about stepping forward and sending your name to us. This camp provides a great opportunity for those who’ve had some success in this area to help ensure the survival of good journalism online by training other reporters and editors to make the step up to publisher and business owner.

About Robert Niles

Robert Niles is the former editor of OJR, and no longer associated with the site. You may find him now at