Professor Jeremy Caplan, Spring, 3 Credits.



To succeed in the new media marketplace, entrepreneurial journalists must understand basic business fundamentals. This course provides students with a foundation in core principles of finance, strategy, marketing and other business fundamentals. Unlike traditional graduate-level business programs, this course is oriented toward journalists, with particular emphasis on applying key concepts to journalism businesses. The course guides students to mastery of the material through a combination of lectures, live exercises, case studies, readings, assignments and student presentations. Students are expected to apply journalism skills to research, craft and present their analysis. The course includes periodic tests to ensure steady progress, consistent comprehension, and retention of course materials. Students are required to apply their learning in a final project, presenting both a written and oral analysis of a business.



Students will…

● Develop analytical tools for assessing entrepreneurial business ideas.

● Understand the basic foundational principles of finance, marketing and strategy so they can comprehend and evaluate business opportunities.

● Apply core journalism skills — including reporting and analysis — in analyzing and writing about businesses, combining journalism skills with basic business analysis.

● Refine their skills of synthesis, editing and presentation in preparing presentations about businesses they analyze.

● Learn how to develop and present a detailed analysis of an existing business.

● Understand the major components of a business model, including Key Activities and Resources, Key Partnerships, Managing Costs, The Value Proposition, Customer Segmentation and Retention, Channels of Distribution, and Revenue Streams.


Course Format and Design

This is an interactive course. It is based on the idea that we learn best not just by listening, but through active discussion and participation. We work through business examples, exercises and cases. We examine real-world examples of business practices to learn from successes and failures. In addition, we learn from our own experiences and those of our colleagues within the professional spheres of journalism, business and technology. I welcome questions and dialogue, and encourage active participation. I expect everyone to maintain civil discourse. I encourage each of you to contribute to class discussions. Most class sessions consist of guided instruction, discussion, and live learning exercises. Each session starts and ends on time. Please arrive five minutes before the period starts so you can settle in prior to the start of class.

Week 1: Course Introduction and The Business Model Framework

● What this course is about – overview and discussion
● Syllabus overview and topic-by-topic introduction
● Goals, expectations and metrics: What you will get out of this course, what you are required to do, and how we will measure success
● Presentation: Clarifying the Concept of a Business Model
● The Elements of a Business Model
● The Value Proposition
● Live exercise: Crafting Effective Value Propositions
● Discussion: The I-News Case

● Case Study: I-News Preliminary Business Plan
● HBS Reading: “Why Business Models Matter,” by Joan Magretta
● Note on Business Model Analysis for the Entrepreneur
● Business Model Generation, Section 1
● How to Redesign a Winning Business Model
● How to Write a Business Plan


Week 2: Business Model Analysis, Ideation, and Innovation

● Discussion: News World Context
● Presentation: Identifying Revenue Approaches
● Defining Problems to Solve
● Surveying the landscape: New Journalism Organizations
● Live Workshop: Using the Business Model Framework
● Case Study: Politico – The Challenges and Opportunities of a News Startup
● Assessing Cost Considerations

● Case Study: Politico Parts A&B
● HBS Reading: Business Model Innovation: A Process Model
● HBS Reading: Some Thoughts on Business Plans
● HBS Reading: Identifying and Exploiting the Right Entrepreneurial Opportunity… for You
● Where Great Ideas Come From, by Steven Johnson (Chapter 1, Kindle Edition)
● HBS Reading: Analyzing a Case
● Myths of Innovation, Preface plus Chapter 1
● Section II of Business Model Generation


Week 3: Customer Analysis and Market Research

● Researching Customers and Audiences
● Marketing Research and Customer Identification: Database Tools (Guest Presentation)
● Techniques for Audience Research: Sizing a Market and Estimating Growth
● Market Research Strategies

● Case Study: The Guardian – Transition to the Online World
● HBS: The Newspaper Industry in Crisis
● HBS: Marketing Analysis Toolkit: Market Size and Market Share Analysis
● HBS: Market Research
● HBS: Online Research Guide
● Chapters 2-3 of The Myths of Innovation


Week 4: Strategy

● The 5 Cs: Company, Customer, Collaborator, Competitor, Context
● Introducing Porter’s Five Forces
● Barriers to Entry – Greenwald Theory and Barriers in Practice
● Defining Strategy Case: Hulu Analysis
● Understanding a Media Ecosystem: Hulu Example
● Introducing SWOT Analysis
● Strategy for a Small Business Venture
● Communicating, Adapting and Evaluating Strategic Decisions
● Readings Discussion: Founders at Work, Biz Definitions

● Case Study: Hulu
● HBS Reading: What is Strategy
● HBS Reading: The Five Competitive Forces that Shape Strategy
● Section III of Business Model Generation
● Selections from Founders at Work and Penguin Business Definitions


Week 5: Marketing

● Defining Marketing and Marketing Strategy
● The 4 Ps: Product, Price, Promotion, Place (Distribution Channel)
● Live Exercise: Marketing Assessment
● Marketing Case Study

● Case Study: Mark News
● Mini-Case: Stacy’s Pita Chips
● HBS: “Note on Marketing Strategy”
● HBS: Basic Quantitative Analysis for Marketing
● HBS: “Can you Measure the ROI of Your Social Media Marketing?”
● Chapters 4-7, The Myths of Innovation


Week 6: Advertising

● Advertising Industry Overview
● Clarifying Ad Categories: From Display Ads and Google AdWords to Traditional Classifieds, Job Ads and Retail Advertising
● Live Exercise: Messaging
● Workshop Exercise: Ad Clarity and Strategy
● Learning from Media Marketing Success Stories… and Failures
● Defining Strategy – Living Case: Popular Science iPad Strategy

● Case Study: Demand Media
● HBS Reading: Conceptual Models of How Advertising Works to Persuade Individuals
● Section IV of Business Model Generation
● Chapters 1-3 of Entrepreneurial Journalism


Week 7: Budgeting and Accounting

● Why Bother with Accounting?
● Basics of Budgeting
● Defining Key Terms
● Examples of Budgets in Action
● Budget Pitfalls
● Tools and Techniques for Budgeting
● Live Exercise: Simple Accounting
● Live Exercise: Budget Fill-In
● Basic Cash Flow Projections

● Case Study: PieSky
● HBS Reading: Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting
● Chapters 4-6 of Entrepreneurial Journalism
● Section V of Business Model Generation


Week 8: Finance and Valuation

● Private Equity
● Initial Public Offerings
● Private vs. Public Ownership
● Discussion: Bootstrap Finance: The Art of Start-ups
● Understanding Various Channels of Startup Funding
● Defining Debt
● Understanding Equity
● Angel Investing
● Venture Capital
● Live Exercise: Using a Spreadsheet to Project Cash Flows
● Reading Discussion: Financing the Business: Where’s the Money

● Case Study: Zinio
● HBS Reading: Deal Structure and Deal Terms
● HBS Reading: New Venture Financing
● HBS Reading: Selling as a Systematic Process
● Chapters 8 – 11, The Myths of Innovation


Week 9: Finance and Valuation

● Introducing Valuation
● Methods of Valuation
● Startups, Sales and Multiples: How Markets Really Work
● Analyzing Cash Flows and the Funding Needs of a Business
● Case Discussion: Facebook

● Case Study: Facebook
● HBS Reading: Term Sheet Negotiations: A “Rich vs. King” Approach
● Chapters 7-8 + appendix, Entrepreneurial Journalism
● Selection from: The Curse of the Mogul
● Selection from: Analysis for Financial Management


Week 10: Intrapreneurship

● Understanding Business Hierarchies
● Navigating Business Bureaucracy
● Finding Key Problems to Solve and Identifying Relevant Intrapreneurial Opportunities
● Case Study: eReading: Amazon’s Kindle
● Guest Speaker: Intrapreneurship at a Large New York Media Conglomerate

● Case Study: Northlands Ledger (Part A)
● Chapters 12 – End, Myths of Innovation
● Additional Readings TBD


Week 11: Leadership

● Leading Up Within an Organization: “Intrapreneurial Leadership”
● Leading Colleagues, Partners and Project Teams
● Leading Yourself: Developing a Vision, Cultivating Long-Term Goals
● Case Study: 3 Young Leaders Face Challenges with Their Start-ups
● Live Exercise: Leadership Challenge Simulation
● Leadership Readings Discussion
● Final Preparation and Business Analysis Discussion in Advance of Final Presentations

● Case Study: Northlands Ledger (Part B)
● Additional Readings TBD


Week 12: Negotiations and Student Presentations

● 5 Principles of Effective Project Management
● Basic Principles and Tactics for Effective Negotiation
● Live Negotiation Simulation
● Exercise: Real-World Challenges “Soft-Skills”
● Discussion: Managing the Challenges of Team Projects

● HBS Reading: Negotiation Analysis: An Introduction
● Additional Readings TBD


Week 13: Live Panel and Student Presentations

● Guest Panel of Experts to Highlight Real-World Aspects of Business Models, Marketing, and Strategy
● Questions and Open Dialogue with Panelists
● Reading Discussion: Shaping Strategy in a World of Disruption
● Student Presentations. Students Present Initial Business Analysis, and Receive Feedback and Comments from Panel


Week 14: Ethical Issues in Entrepreneurship

● Discussion: When Business Opportunities Clash with Principles of Journalism
● The Primacy of Privacy: New Issues for Media Businesses
● Case Study: A Startup Faces a Difficult Decision: Multiple Perspectives on Ethics
● A Framework for Taking Ethics into Account
● How and Why to Talk Clearly and Openly about Ethics, Values and Principles


Week 15: Course Review

● Reviewing Business Models
● Overview and Review of Course Material
● Answering Lingering Questions
● Live Exercise: Business Analysis


Weeks 1 – 15: Additional Selected Readings from:

● Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

● The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

● Case Studies and Readings from Harvard Business School, Columbia Journalism School, Columbia Business School, and other Contemporary Case Study Sources

● Entrepreneurial Journalism: How to Build What’s Next for News, by Mark Briggs

● Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days, to get a better sense of the entrepreneurial mindset and some of the day-to-day challenges faced by entrepreneurs at leading journalism and media startups

● The Curse of the Mogul by Bruce Greenwald, Jonathan Knee and Ava Seave, for an understanding of some of the strategic issues at the core of the media business

● The Dictionary of Business, Penguin Reference, for a concise guide to basic business terminology

● Analysis for Financial Management, by Robert C. Higgins, for excellent, straightforward explanations of basic concepts of finance

● Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini, for a basic introduction to principles and concepts in marketing

● Funding Journalism in the Digital Age: Business Models, Strategies, Issues and Trends by Jeff Kaye and Stephen Quinn

● The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times Business Section, The Economist and other business periodicals and blogs will also be assigned at various points throughout the course for contemporary readings.



Writing: 35%
Class Participation: 20%
Exercises: 15%
Tests: 15%


Syllabi for Entrepreneurial Journalism Courses

New Business Models for News

Fundamentals of Business

New Business Incubation

Technology Immersion

New Media Apprenticeship