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Lean Journalism Canvas

A BUSINESS PLAN CANVAS TOOL MADE FOR REPORTERS, ENTREPRENEURS, AND TEACHERS

(Last Edit: December 2019, adding the « Audience Canvas », developed by Sarah Marshall, Head of audience growth, Vogue International, Condé Nast International. Director of Hacks/Hackers London)

As journalist, we don’t often shoot or write as professionnal sellers. Actually, we’ve got a real problem with money, and not doing this job to be rich (famous, sometimes, but definitelly not rich). Given the last decade’s decline of our whole industry business models, we need to craft new ways to produce and deliver content. And it’s not an easy game, particularly when you’r playing the freelance way.

News as a Process

During the last 10 years, I’ve trained about 3.500 journo students, freelancers and staff members, in Belgium, Franc, Switzerland and Morroco, to think and act as entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs of their own career, with some digital litteracy, and more specifically, entrepreneurs of their own little pieces of work. Being able to embrace changes, setting up some strong conversationnal strategy and handling the whole process as much as possible, from the ideas (which are cheap) and early iterations, to the aftermath (selling it and backtracking it using comments and feedbacks).

By the time, pitching to your peers appeared to be a very good exercice before pitching to your Editors or boss. Because if you’r not able to sell a strong « Why » to your Friends, Familly, Followers and Fools, there’s now way that strangers will buy it. So you definitely must admit to you have to think and act as the best VRP of your own work, IRL and online.

From  my point of view, being « Lean » is more a state of mind than a set of tools, or rules. So I let them digg and play, fail quick and craft dirty sketchs, trying to be the more useful as possible helping them to ask themselves good questions. And I’ve never seen good solutions who did not came exclusively from them.

Training students for jobs which don’t exist yet

So, I’m not considering myself as much as a teacher than a coach or a mentor, or a facilitator (whatever you call it, but in a socrative way). Living day-by-day with stratupers has learned me that there is not such a great mindset that the one which consist to challenge every proposition value with the right product market fit. And, again, given the fact that our traditionnal business model are broken doens’t mean that there is no new paths to explore to make our journalism, at least, sustainable.

So I begon to use the Business Model Canvas, the Lean Canvas and the « New News Process » to help, me at first sight, and then them, crafting the best user experiences.

But there was a glitch, a missing piece, for journalists to take full advantage of those great tools. So I’ve build my own, confronted it with the field’s rules, and now opensource it. Because as the people formerly known as the audience has told us: We are What We Share.

F**ck it, Ship it !


At this time, using this Lean Journalism Canvas (download it as .jpeg here), my students have achieved to crowdfund >100 projects succesfully, for about than 300.000 € . I’m quite proud of everyone of them, as much that I’m gratefull to the IHEC’s board and team for their trust and full support to let the students create and innovate this way.

This canvas is a proposition, not perfectly nor definitely crafted. It is a good v0.1 v0.2 but it doesn’t exactly fit yet with every kind of j-works, especially for those with short term delivery commitments. Work is still to be done to refine it, so don’t hesitate to test it with your own projects, hard and soft news, play with it with a gazillion of stickypost-it. Fork it  and I would love to see it improved with your remarks, tips and tricks !

(thanx to Eric Scherer, Tristan Kromer, Ziad Maalouf, Marie-Catherine BeuthPhilippe Lemmens, Olivier Verbeke, Xavier Damman, Philippe Couve, Yann Guegan, amongst others, for their great feedback and early support.)

EDIT: Sarah Marshall, Head of audience growth, Vogue International, CondĂ© Nast International. Director of Hacks/Hackers London) has developed an « Audience Canvas », as « a framework for planning an audience growth strategy developed by CondĂ© Nast for its internal audience growth training. » (see their slides here) . I’ve translate it in french here).

« This method contributed to making Vogue India online readership grow by 129% in one year », according Francesco Zaffarano‘s report of the last Hacks/Hackers LDN meetup (see below video)

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