University of Southern California

Creating New Paths for Media Entrepreneurs
A Summer Boot Camp for Digital Media Leads to Business Plans and New Directions
August 11, 2011 • by News at Marshall

This summer, the USC Marshall School of Business worked with media entrepreneurs taking part in the 2011 News Entrepreneur Boot Camp to encourage innovative community news and information initiatives. The camp, a six-week online seminar that culminated in a week’s residence at USC’s University Park campus, was hosted by the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism’s Knight Digital Media Center and pulled in faculty from Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Tom O’malia, professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship at the Lloyd Greif Center, coached and mentored journalists to create marketable business plans for news sites and develop novel business models to collect public interest news and information. Each participant presented his/her business plan to a panel of angel investors and media heavy-hitters.

Key topics discussed included audience development, social networking models, the use of analytics, and revenue and advertising strategies.

Dan Christensen, founder of the Broward Bulldog—which focuses on the local news that newspapers with smaller staffs cannot afford to cover, and Susan G. Dunn of the style and culture-focused website Baltimore Fishbowl, were some of the veteran news journalists who took part in the boot camp.

"It was definitely a life-changing experience," said participant Angie Schmitt, co-founder of, which aims to provide a new voice about issues and arts in post-industrial cities across the Rust Belt.

"The most valuable lessons for me were the advice about dealing with clients and pricing for advertising," Schmitt said.

Aiming not only to help journalists but the communities they serve, the camp’s effect can be seen close to home: participant P. Kim Bui, a digital journalist in Los Angeles, manages the collaborative reporting site, "a site for the neighborhoods" around Central Avenue in Los Angeles. The site provides information and news for South Los Angeles, while encouraging visitors to add their input by sharing their story or helping existing stories grow by their comments.

Bui left the camp with renewed fervor for her project, citing both the camp’s one-on-one sessions and general discussions as inspiration. "I walked away with lots of ideas on how to engage more and get content working better, as well as the comfort knowing that I wasn't alone in my frustrations," said Bui. "I think learning how to pitch and understanding the business aspect helped my overall professional outlook."

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.