Author Archives: debrajchico

DMI: How to Conduct Research with Your Market

Happy Sunday DMIers: Friendly reminder that Homework 5: Research Plan is due tomorrow in class. Do not publish it to your blog/learning journal. Instead, bring the electronic file to class since we’ll be workshopping these plans during our session.

Also, make sure that your research plan reflects our key discussion points from last class session, namely:

  • Introduction that does not give away your definition of the problem or your solution.
  • Clear description of the research methods you plan to use.
  • The exact questions in the exact order you’re going to ask them (remember big picture to little picture?).
  • And, you’ll need to have some type of visual mockup of your product concept – paper sketches are fine for tomorrow but a better approach is POP.

In addition to the resources highlighted last week, you might find these two articles helpful as they expand on many of our key points:

Have a great rest of the day. I’ll see you tomorrow.


Researching & Talking to Your Market

Greetings, DMIers. I hope you found Monday’s Sticky Test exercise helpful along with today’s brainstorming sessions around markets and competitors.

I wanted to highlight another resource for secondary research on your markets that may be helpful: Ibis World. Chico State has access to this via library resources. Consider exploring this one if you don’t get good connections via:

Monday we’ll be focusing on conducting original research with your potential market (Homework 5). This research may help to determine if your idea is just that — an idea — or if there is potential to make it something more. This is a crucial stage for any entrepreneur.

Before class, be sure that you take a look at Mashable’s How to Solicit the Customer Feedback Your Startup Needs.

Final point, remember that your final concept must have a significant news element built into it. The NiemanLab is a fantastic source to help generate ideas in this area.

Lots of great stuff to contemplate this weekend.


Expand News Sources: Entrepreneurship, Changing Tech and Digital Journalism

Welcome DMI entrepreneurs. As we look toward week 2 of our startup adventure, we need to start expanding information sources you use on a regular basis. We do not have a course textbook to guide our collective learning. Instead, we’re going to be using a wide variety of sources from the digital space.

Explore the links below, start bookmarking sites and signing up for free enewsletters.

Entrepreneurs and Emerging Technology:

  • Entrepreneur: the title of the publication says it all. And, sponsored content (a monetization tool) on the site gives you access to articles which may help you with DMI Brief #3 Now That’s Innovation (due Sept. 6): The 10 Tech Trends Driving Our Future and Will Artificial Intelligence Really Kill My Job?
  • Fast Company: Sign up for Fast Co’s free email newsletter and the top stories come right to your inbox every morning.
  • The Startup on Medium: This will be helpful as we dive into business plans and how you think about technology, marketing and audience segmentation.
  • Haptical: a journalism startup focused on emerging technology.
  • Axios: another journalism startup looking at emerging technology.
  • What’s your favorite industry? Considering doing a Google search to find some startups in the industry you are most passionate about. You’ll probably find an Angel list, like this one, which also connects to monetization methods we’ll be discussing later.

Entrepreneurial Journalism: The challenge here is to start reviewing news media outlets you don’t normally follow and to understand how the startup culture applies to journalism. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Nieman Lab: Great resource to glimpse what’s happening with entrepreneurial journalism, find info about new startups and how emerging technology is being used by reporters and news organizations. Sign up for the free enewsletter.
  • Journalism Innovation on Medium: This content comes from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism in NY city. The structure of our course is based on training I received several members of the Tow-Knight program. Medium was also a journalism startup.
  • Startups for News: This content comes from the Global Editors Network. Also on Medium.
  • Read Across the Aisle: Want to try out a journalism startup? This is a free app you can download for your smartphone. It’s designed to get you reading across a wide political spectrum. It’s currently one of my favorite journalism apps and it’s a good example of helping to solve a specific problem.

Feel free to add ideas for other sources we should follow as a class via the comments.


Twitter image source:

Welcome to JOUR 451

This is the course site for JOUR 451 Digital Media Innovation for News & PR. Students enrolled in the fall 2017 course will need this site to access the following information:

  • Course syllabus and schedule
  • Assignments and readings
  • Sample work
  • Community resources

If you’re enrolled in the course, click the “follow” button in the bottom right hand corner of this screen. This will allow you to receive course updates via email each time new content is posted.

I’ll be posting content to this site approximately once a week as we progress through the semester.

Course resources are also accessible via the course folder in the Mac Lab.

Any questions? Just post comments here or shoot me an email:

Debra Johnson

Personal Data as a Business Model

Greetings DMIers. In class today we’ll be taking a deep dive into Facebook. Specifically, we’re going to further explore how you are being tracked digitally, the types of data collected, who is tracking you and what you can do about it.

As we all know, there is no such things as privacy if you’re a user of digital products like websites, social media channels, web-connected TVs or other smart devices that may fall under the Internet of Things (what Fast Company terms Privacy Hell).

This digital tracking is a business model that generates lots of money for companies, and it’s a business model for you to consider for your startup. It’s sometimes called infomediary, but today it’s more commonly known as remarketing, which is the result of the digital tracking.

To explore how this tracking works and methods to try to protect yourself, check out these sources:

Please share in the comments if you have other resources you think students in the class should consider on this topic.


Image source credit: Creative Commons Zero License, Unsplash, Fabian Blank.

Design Dabbling & Exploring Hoodline

Good morning, DMIers. We’re just over a week away from spring break, so I wanted to give an overview of deadlines and tasks we’ll be completing prior to the break.

Today: DMI Brief 4

We’re going to be reviewing how to effectively name products. It’s a tricky proposition to name your product: it’s got to be creative, connect with your market and not already owned by someone else. Here are some tools that might help you with this task:

  • Name Robot: this site offers some free elements including tips on naming, how to research ownership and tools that might help with the creative process.
  • Sticky Branding’s article The Power of Symbols in Branding provides a good review of symbolism and how the eye processes visual info.
  • Startup Stash has a long list of tools focusing on various aspects of product naming.

After our naming exercise, we’ll review Homework 6, which leads us into Monday.

Monday: Dabbling in Design


  • DMI Brief #5, which focuses on money and how to get your market to part with it.
  • Mini-Pitch #1: You’ll present your Problem – Solution segment to the class in 60 seconds. Remember, you’ve got to tell an interesting story, not just spew data.

Most of this class session will be open lab time to work on two big design projects:

  • Developing your company color palette, font sets and logo.
  • Creating your product mockup via wireframing tools.

If you’re new to design principles, you’ll find these sources are helpful:

Wednesday:  An Introduction to Hoodline

Brittany Hopkins

J&PR alumna Brittany Hopkins will be joining us March 8 to talk about Hoodline, a San Francisco based digital media news company. Hoodline started in 2010 as a blog about the Lower Haight and has built itself into one of the “largest news sites in the city, with dozens of freelancers writing about their neighborhoods.”

Hopkins joined Hoodline in 2015 as a neighborhood editor and is currently the associate San Francisco editor. Photo above from her LinkedIn profile.

Homework 5 Deadline

The outcomes of your market research must be submitted no later than 3 p.m., Friday, March 10. This is a change from the course schedule. You’ll be submitting it via email.

Depending on the file sizes of your interview recordings or video sessions, you may need to provide this segment of the assignment via Dropbox or loading it into the course dock in the Mac Lab. Let me know if you have any questions or problems in this area.


Featured image source:; CC Zero License


Starting to Define The Problem

Greetings DMIers:  I hope you found our design thinking challenge around the gift-giving experience insightful and entertaining. We’ll continue to use design thinking concepts throughout our course. If you’d like to learn more about those who designed the challenge we did, please explore the Institute of Design at Stanford.

Course Website Updates
I’ve made a few adjustments to our website:

  1. Homework page: I’ve reorganized the order of the assignments to represent the order in which they’ll be accomplished. There are no new additions, just hopefully a clearer order to help you meet deadlines.
  2. Guest Speakers: We’re going to have four guest speakers in the coming weeks and you can find initial details about them on this page.

Looking Ahead to Monday’s Class
You should be in the process of finalizing DMI Brief #3 which has you identifying specific innovators in the industries you are most passionate about. It’s my hope that this brief will help you to start contemplating your digital media product concept.

Monday in class you’ll start putting into writing and sketches some initial concepts for Homework 1. A key point to keep in mind about this product concept creation:

  • The most successful products solve a specific problem the market feels. It will be key for you to be able to clearly define The Problem your market faces. I often refer to this as your customer’s pain point. Example: Here’s the link to the Instagram founder’s comments on finding the problem we saw in class.

I have two resources to share this week to help you find some inspiration in your work:

  • Entrepreneur’s 100 Brilliant Companies to Watch in 2016 highlights innovators across a wide range of industries including fashion, health, business services, tech, recreation and food. This is a great resource for a quick dive into entrepreneurs in specific industries you’re passionate about. Who knows, you may find a competitor or two in this feature.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I’ll see you Monday.


Art Credit:, CC Zero

Getting Started In Entrepreneurial Journalism

Happy Sunday DMI: This week in Digital Media Innovation we’re going to start exploring how entrepreneurial perspectives are influencing news media companies and the overall industry.

To help you start learning more about life as an entrepreneur I suggest you start following news media outlets that cover this specific area. Here are a few great places to start:

Sign up for the free enewsletters offered by these organizations. This gets you great news headlines delivered right to your inbox. You’ll want to start a collection of key content focusing on the industry areas you are most excited about. For example:

And, you’ll want to track approaches to entrepreneurial journalism:

Have fun diving in this week. Use these resources to start contemplating The Problem you’ll dive into in a few weeks.


Image Source:, CCZero license

Marketing & PR Strategy for Your Startup

Happy Friday, DMIers. We’ve made it through week 9, which means we’ve only got 4 weeks until the drafts of your Make $ Plan and product mockups are due.

Next week we’ll be focusing on Section 7 of the Make $ Plan, which is all about how to market your product.


We have two J&PR alumni visiting class Monday from InkHouse PR in San Francisco. Julianna Young and Kayla Wilkinson will be sharing what it’s like to handle PR for startups and venture capitalists.  This is a great opportunity for you to throw questions their way that can help you be successful with Section 7 of your Make $ Plan.

Here are a few items from Start Co that might help with your tasks:




Life as a Content Producer

Greetings DMIers. Happy Monday and welcome to week 5 of the semester. We’re having our first guest speaker this week.

Amanda Hasaka will be joining us via Skype from Los Angeles on Wednesday. She is a content producer with Time Inc. and a former digital producer with Disney ABC Television Group. Amanda has been working in the entertainment industry for more than five years.

Amanda is going to talk about Time’s INSTANT video platform, a mobile-first site she helped to launch earlier this year. I think you’ll find that Amanda is a great example of an intrapreneur. In LinkedIn chats she mentioned that her job is in a space that’s constantly changing and the platform she’s working with now didn’t necessarily exist a few years ago.

In addition to INSTANT, she’ll talk about:

  • Her career path: how did she move from Chico State’s J&PR program to her current position with Time
  • What her job as a content producer involves
  • How she measures the effectiveness of her product
  • Q&A


Check out some of the news coverage about the product:


Do your research and bring lots of questions.


Best, @DebraJChico