Category Archives: Digital Media Startups

Focusing on entrepreneurial journalism

Reminders for our Final Exam

Good morning everyone. I hope your final exam week is going smoothly. A few quick reminders about our final exam for DMI.

When: Friday, Noon – 1:50 p.m.


  • Presenters: The order of presentations can be found here. You need to email me a copy of your deck before presentations start.
  • Reviewers: you owe me your list of questions by 9 a.m. Friday via email. You can access your peers’ work on the DMI Final Work tab.

Wrapping up grades:

  • I will be returning grades for everything submitted thus far on Friday after the presentations are complete.
  • For those presenting Friday, I’m going to score your presentations once our final exam period ends and will be emailing them to you.
  • I will not be submitting final grades until Monday, Dec. 18 at 8 a.m. This gives everyone the weekend to email me with any final questions you may have.

Today’s Office Hours:

I’ve had to change my office hours for today. I will be here from 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. if you need to see me.

Have a great day.



Let the Presentations Begin!

Hi, all. Nice work for most of you in meeting today’s big deadline. I’m really excited to dive in and explore your final work.

For those who missed the deadline, don’t freak out. You still have until 9 a.m. Saturday to submit final work; use today to do what you have to do to get the projects finished and shoot them my way via email.


If you need a reminder, this is the order of presentations. Reviewer assignments are also there. We will start as close to 2 p.m. as possible to make sure all six presenters have their allotted time for presentations. Be sure you’re on time.

Please note:

  • Presenters:
    • Email me your pitch deck before class starts at 2 p.m. Use whatever presentation software you prefer as long as you can open it on the Mac Lab computers.
    • Everyone presents from the computer that Alma sits at.
    • The Mac Lab is open today from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. if you want to get in there and practice your pitch. I’ll be working in my office Saturday from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., feel free to contact me if you want access to the lab to practice. I will not be on campus or checking email Sunday.
  •  Reviewers:
    • I will bring the presentation score sheets you need to class.
    • Email me your 10 questions by 9 a.m. Monday.
    • If your presenter’s materials are not linked on the website right now, check back later today or after 9 a.m. tomorrow.

Have a wonderful weekend.


$300 in Only 90 Seconds!

Hi, all. Alma mentioned this competition during our last class session, in case you’re interested… The Chico State Elevator Pitch Contest is Still Open for Submissions

Hurry–the submission deadline for the Elevator Pitch Contest is about to close on November 9th at 6:00 PM! Don’t miss your chance to win $300 in only 90 seconds!

The leaves are falling, it’s cooling down, and you can find pumpkin spice in just about everything. It can only mean one thing – the Elevator Pitch Contest is just around the corner!

The contest is open for submissions from all currently enrolled students at CSU, Chico or Butte College – plus for the first time we have opened the competition to members of Chico’s business incubator: ChicoStart. This is your chance to air your best business idea in public with a chance for prize money, great advice, and even future investment.
Chico’s own T-Bar is, once again, the sponsor and will be providing the prize money. The top four concepts automatically qualify for the Spring 2018 Chico State Business Concept Competition with a chance to win even more prize money and go on to Humboldt State for the Future Four in April 2018.

Elevator Pitches are only 90 seconds– about the time it takes to ride to the top of Butte Hall. We are limiting the contest to fifty contestants – the only pre-condition is attendance at one coaching session.

The contest is open to ALL majors on campus and will be held Thursday, November 16 at 6:00 PM in Colusa 100 A & B.
Register here for the Elevator Pitch Contest

The event is free and open to the public to attend. Must be a student at Chico State or Butte College or a ChicoStart member to participate in the contest.
Not a business student, but have a business idea? That’s where we come in! The Center for Entrepreneurship can provide mentoring, coaching, and support in creating your pitch or business plan. Stop by and see what we can do for you!

Get all details at or drop by the Center for Entrepreneurship office, Glenn 219-221  530-898-4894  |

Announced on: Monday, Nov. 06, 2017 via Campus Announcements

Schedule to Finals

Happy Friday DMIers! I hope you’re enjoying the rain.

I wanted to pass along a few more resources to help with your projects:

Schedule to Finals

As we discussed in class, the university released the final exam schedule, which means I adjusted our schedule to close out the semester. Here it is:

Week of Nov. 6: Same as current schedule.

Nov. 13: Brief 9 due and three working screens of your product are due. I strongly encourage you to have a full rough prototype instead of just three screens.

Nov. 15: no class since Debra will be in San Diego on a J&PR business trip.

Nov. 27 (day we come back from Thanksgiving break): full drafts of Make $ Plan and product mockup due. We’ll do an intensive critique in class.

Nov. 29: open lab to finalize work.

9 a.m., Friday, Dec 1: Make $ Plan and product due. You’ll be emailing your Make $ Plan to me. The URL to access your product will be before the Executive Summary section.

  • I’ll email the class when the web page is ready and reviewers can access the needed files.

Pitch presentations will take place Dec. 4, 6 and 15.

  • Dec. 15 final exam time slot is noon – 1:50 p.m.

Have a great weekend.

Digital Tracking = Money in the Bank

Greetings DMIers. In tomorrow’s class, we’ll first review your product logos, then we’ll revisit one of the monetization techniques we discussed last week: collecting information from consumers in their digital spaces.

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

As we all know, there is no such thing 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). Ever used Tinder? The company has lots of data on you; 800 pages in the case of this journalist from The Guardian.

We’re going to explore how you are being tracked digitally, the types of data collected, who is tracking you and what you can do about it. We’ll do this by diving into Facebook’s data collection practices to start with.

If you’re interested in learning how this tracking works in the larger digital context 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.


Photo by Fancycrave from Pexels

Guest Speaker Coming Monday

Greetings DMI. Monday, Oct. 23 we’re going to have our first guest speaker in class.

Sarah Koniniec graduated from Chico State in 2012 and has spent the past five years working with tech entrepreneurs, startups and venture capitalists in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, she’s a senior account executive at Highwire in San Francisco.

Sarah is going to share:

  • Her career path.
  • What it’s like working for startups vs. traditional companies.
  • Examples of PR to promote or launch new products and companies.
  • Key considerations to keep in mind in PR, marketing and digital contexts for promotion.

Her presentation directly links to the content you’ll be required to produce in the Make $ Plan, specifically the PR and marketing section.

Your homework in preparation for this visit:

  • Review the Make $ Plan assignment to understand the requirements for the PR and marketing section.
  • Check out her LinkedIn profile.
  • Bring a list of questions you might toss her way.


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