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Journalism, Grounded in Solid Business

‘Medill Incubate’ project gives students the chance to build, test new media products

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August 31, 2012 | by Stephen Anzaldi

EVANSTON, Ill. --- What do you get when you mix journalism with business? How about a Web magazine for Asian-North American pre-teen girls that takes a big sister approach to advising on relationships, fashion, health and entertainment?

Graduate students from the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications added a dash of entrepreneurialism to their summer innovation class through a project called “Medill Incubate.”

The Web magazine for pre-teen girls was one in a portfolio of market-ready media products built on real business plans with rapid development in mind. A mobile app helps users explore Chicago’s craft beer brewing scene. “Apocalyse Fitness” is a mobile fitness app that blends outdoor fitness routines and immersive story lines with social gaming opportunities. And a Web/tablet/print publication called “Forward” helps female Baby Boomers navigate the range of trends and products in the tech industry.

"In their media careers as entrepreneurs, or in organizations, many of our students will find themselves in situations where they'll need to come up with, investigate and weigh the merits of different journalistic products," said Mary Nesbitt, Medill's associate dean for curriculum and professional excellence. "Anybody can come up with ideas. The differentiator is being able to determine feasibility and then produce to a high standard -- quickly."

The four “Medill Incubate” products weathered scrutiny from advertising consultants, venture capitalists and for-profit media companies as a test of commercial viability. Students designed business plans and addressed all relevant publishing formats before creating functional prototypes.