Don't neglect to set aside time to build the personal network that will guide your journalism career

[Update: We’ve extended the deadline for applying to the2011 KDMC News Entrepreneur Boot Camp to Monday, January 17 at midnight, Pacific Time.]

Any journalist ought to know that your stories are only as good as your sources. Start with bad information, and you’ll deliver bad information to your readers.

Running a news publication is like that, too.

If you don’t go into publishing with good information – about your market, your environment, your legal and tax requirements – you’ll soon find yourself wasting an enormous amount of time learning what you should have known from the start. And that’s time that you could have spent building your business.

A news website is a business – even if you’re running it as an official non-profit or an unofficial haven’t-made-a-profit. At the very least, you’ve invested your time in whatever you publish (or hope to publish) online. That time deserves the respect of a decent return on that investment, whether it be financial or something else.

Simple business education can help you get the most from your investment of time and money in online news publishing. You don’t need to go to graduate school for two years to earn an MBA. But you do need to talk to some folks who know what they’re doing in this space.

Like you did when you were only a reporter, as a publisher, you need some sources.

“Entrepreneurship is network dependent,” teaches Tom O’Malia, the USC Marshall School of Business professor who’s helped us develop the KDMC News Entrepreneur Boot Camp. “Without a good network, an entrepreneur cannot succeed.”

That means that you need to talk with other folks who are running news websites – whether they be small, one-person blogs or major-metro newspaper dot-coms. You know journalism. But do you know how to find a foundation to fund your start-up? Do you know how to select the most lucrative ad network? Do you know how to ask for – and close – an advertising deal for your website?

Do you know how to make a budget for your news website? How to promote your site and increase the audience and page views that you’ll need to make it attractive to either advertisers or non-profit funders?

What do you know about the business of making a living when someone else isn’t writing you a weekly paycheck?

This is what your network can teach you. And with that knowledge, you’ll have the freedom to create and publish a news website that fulfills your vision for what your journalism career ought to be.

Too often, journalists get into website publishing naively, thinking that long hours and hard work will help them get ahead. Don’t get me wrong – long hours and hard work are requirements in news publishing. But those alone won’t get you anything but frustrated and deeper in debt.

You need to plan and spend time developing and cultivating your personal network of teachers, advisers and confidants in order to have any real chance of success as a news publisher.

That’s why I’m urging you to block out some time tonight and on Friday to complete your application for the 2011 KDMC News Entrepreneur Boot Camp. Go to website. Read what this program offers. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to instantly build a network that can help you learn what you need to know to make a start-up news publication financially and socially successful.

You want to have an impact in your community. You wouldn’t have gotten into journalism if you didn’t. And you want to make enough money in this business to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. You don’t need to have an employer to do that, though. Invest in building a network of colleagues who know the way, and you can become a successful news publisher, too.

The deadline to apply for the 2011 KDMC News Entrepreneur Boot Camp is Friday, January 14 Saturday, January 17, 2011.

About Robert Niles

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