Academic and professional experience

The academic and professional careers of the teachers we interviewed are varied and reflect the diversity of those who teach journalism classes in Latin America and Spain. If we only looked at the average number of years these professors have worked in media (13.1 years) and their average number of years of experience as university teachers (13.8 years), our analysis of these professors would be limited.

The first data point that stood out to us was that the teachers we interviewed have only recently begun to incorporate entrepreneurial journalism into their classes. Some 76% of professors we interviewed started teaching this subject between 2012 and 2018. Only one professor had academic experience in entrepreneurial journalism prior to the year 2000.

When we compared the data about how long these professors have been teaching with their experience working in media and the time they have been teaching entrepreneurial journalism, it led to some interesting insights. While most of the professors in our sample have worked in media for roughly the same amount of time, we found that those with fewer years of classroom experience were more likely to have become professors specifically to teach entrepreneurial journalism. On the other hand, the more experienced professors (six professors in our sample have more than two decades experience) had to learn new skills and expand their focus to include entrepreneurial journalism.

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In 2010, Miguel Carvajal, a professor at the Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche in Spain, did a postdoctoral stay in New York, where he visited media startups, investigated new journalism financing models and met professors like Jeremy Caplan and Jeff Jarvis. When he returned to Spain, his university tasked him with setting up a postgraduate course of study. "I brought some cultural and academic baggage back with me from New York, and that came into focus in 2011- 2012, when I started designing the master’s degree in Journalism Innovation. For a moment, I thought about calling it a ‘Master’s in Entrepreneurial Journalism,’ but we thought that name would have restricted our future growth. By focusing on innovation, we can incorporate not only the creation of startups but also the creation of innovative intrapreneurial projects." 

"For a moment, I thought about calling it a ‘Master’s in Entrepreneurial Journalism,’ but we thought that name would have restricted our future growth. By focusing on innovation, we can incorporate not only the creation of startups but also the creation of innovative intrapreneurial projects."

Miguel Carvajal, professor at the
Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, Spain

Venezuelan professor Albor Rodríguez took another academic route; for 25 years, she lived in Caracas, but in 2006 decided to return to her hometown of Ciudad Bolívar, where she started teaching at the Puerto Ordaz campus of the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. In 2016, Albor used the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to help launch  La Vida de Nos (The Life of Us), a site dedicated to longform narrative journalism. Albor used that experience to inform her course on editorial processes, which went from being a reporting workshop to a course where students were challenged to work with entrepreneurial tools.

We asked teachers if, in addition to their years of experience in the classroom, they had ever had hands-on experience as media entrepreneurs. Almost two-thirds of those interviewed (about 64%) had created a project related to media, journalism or communications. There are many others who have also provided advice to other entrepreneurs, or are currently designing a project that they hope to launch in the future.

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Óscar Maldonado from Ecuador is the founder of  Paralelo (Parallel), a media organization dedicated to producing branded content using new digital narrative techniques. Yanancy Noguera in Costa Rica created Punto y Aparte (Period, Paragraph) a platform that connects young and experimental journalists and allows them to work on projects collaboratively.

Moreover, not all of the entrepreneurial projects launched by professors have been digital: in 2005, Fernando Ruiz launched La Ciudad, a print newspaper in the province of Tucumán, Argentina, which he published for three years.

In our sample of professors, 76% had once worked as a reporter, while 24% had worked as an editor. Only two of our interviewees had worked as media administrators or executives. In contrast, teachers who had no experience working in newsrooms tended to have professional experience outside of the communications field. This explains a phenomenon we noticed in some universities: because there is a shortage of specialists in entrepreneurial journalism, some journalism schools have had to request for professors to be “loaned” from other schools within their own institutions.

For example, professors like Roberto Bulgarini in Chile come from the business school but work to adapt themselves to the field of journalism in order to teach entrepreneurial journalism effectively. 

From an academic point of view, 84% of the professors interviewed completed a degree in communications and/or journalism, depending on the nomenclature used by universities in the different countries.

The remaining 16% represents professors who began with different types of degrees – such as political science, business, management, or higher education - who later pursued postgraduate studies in business administration or marketing. When we looked at the education level of the professors in our study, we found that more than half (52%) had bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

About 36% of the professors in our study have a doctoral degree. This fact is related to the kind of academic position these professors have in the universities where they teach classes and brings us to the final element of our anatomy of a professor.

About 60% of the interviewees are full-time teachers, which implies that they are completely dedicated to working in academia. All nine teachers who have PhDs fall in this category.

The 40% who are guest professors also work full-time on their own media projects or in traditional media, often in positions where they lead innovation projects. A good example is Óscar Maldonado who teaches at the Universidad San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador.

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