What would you want out of a class taught by a journalist-programmer?

You know journalism is in trouble when you know this: I'm being invited to teach a class at a respected journalism school. The fun part, and not a very surprising part given the state of the industry right now, is that neither they nor I have a really solid idea what the class is going to be. The class will start in the fall of 2010, so we have time to figure it out.

Obviously, given what I do now, they're not asking me to give a seminar on modern American narrative. I'm a journalist who builds web sites. I got into it when I built PolitiFact, the first website to win a Pulitzer Prize. Since then, I've built a few more sites and gone into consulting for media companies on the side. So, I'm just guessing that's what I'm going to be talking about.

But that's an awful broad area. Want to help? If you were going to take a journalism class from a journalist/programmer, what would you want the class to be?

My pitch thus far has been this: The business of the press has been mostly unchanged for hundreds of years, so journalism schools have evolved during that time to teach craft. That's still important. But now that the business is being turned inside out, it's time for entrepreneurship in the journalism school. Not my line, but a good one: The future of journalism belongs to the entrepreneurs.

So I'm thinking a class that's part business, part product development, part programming, part journalism. Ideally, we'd build and launch a product, but that may be hoping for a lot in a single semester, non-required, non-core class. I want to pull people from other colleges in there -- Nebraska has a fine entrepreneurship program at the business college, for example. I've got a million ideas, but I'm more curious what you think. What would you want out of a class like this?

If my comment system breaks for you or you don't want to publicly share your thoughts, I'm at matt (dot) waite (at) gmail (dot) com.

By: Matt Waite | Posted: Nov. 23, 2009 | Tags: Journalism | 6 comments