For the past four years, I’ve been teaching a New Media Business for media course at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. It was originally open just to postgraduate students, but a few years ago we opened it to select upperclassmen, too.
Some 250 students have taken the course. Approximately half were from the Newhouse School’s Media Management masters degree program, in which taking the course is a requirement. However the rest of the students have been from the school’s Arts Journalism, Broadcast Journalism, Communications, Graphic Design, Magazine, Newspaper, Photography, Public Diplomacy, Public Relations, and Television/Radio/Film departments. Students and staff from the university’s Whitman School of Business, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, School of Information Studies, University College, and the College of Law also have taken the course. In any semester, between a quarter and a third of the students who take the course are foreign, mainly from China, India, the Middle East, or European Union.
Because New Media technologies, business models, and practices are continually changing, I have to update the course syllabus every semester. Here is the current version, minus university boilerplate:
New Media Business syllabus
ICC625-M001 (55764) & ICC300-M001 (60544)
Course Goals: Learn the dynamics, economics, and technologies that are reshaping the media industries worldwide during the 21st Century. Learn how these differ from those of 20th Century media. Learn how to adapt to these changing times.
Disclosures: There aren’t sufficient hours in this single course to provide in-depth assessments of all New Media technologies which are constantly evolving.
Moreover, the syllabus you’re reading is subject to change. Each semester a different mix of students from Newhouse departments attends this course. For example, last semester’s course was taken by 18 Media Management, two Broadcast Journalism, one Public Relations, one Advertising, one Newspaper student, and a Whitman staffer. In contrast, this semester’s course currently has five Advertising, one Broadcast Journalism, and one Newspaper student enrolled. So, after the first week of classes each semester, the instructor revises this syllabus to focus on the specific needs of the students in that semester.
Dates, Hours, and Location: Twenty-nine (29) eighty-minute classes will be held between 11:00 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays from January 17 to May 1, 2012, in the Larry Kramer War Room (#252 in Newhouse 3, geo-coordinates on request).
Agenda & Topics: The following agenda of class topics is tentative. The actual agenda may vary due to availability of speakers or additional topics added during the semester either by the instructor or the requests of students.
The first four weeks of the course surveys the current state of the world’s media; how that situation cannot be explained by classical Mass Media theory, and examines the new theories which fit that situation.
January 17 – Ritual Reading of the Syllabus. Plus, discussion of class goals and policies. Handout: Student questionnaire.
January 19 – Embracing Change. The elasticity of time. The Confederate widow and the World War One Flying Ace anachronisms. How long do you plan to live? People you’ll meet who will in the the 22nd Century. How to adapt to change, and why knowing how to embrace change and adapt to is the paramount skill for 21st Century media people to have.
January 31 and February 2 – Apocalypse. What challenges do the advertising, newspaper, magazine, radio, television, cinema, public relations, photography industries now face? How the ancient Greek word apokálypsis actually means ‘lifting of the veil’, ‘revelation’, and ‘disclosing something hidden in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception’ and not (contrary to popular belief) ‘chaos’ or ‘end of the world’.
February 2 – Creative Disruption. How an Austrian economist strove to become the greatest economist in the world, the best horseman in his nation, and the greatest lover in all of Vienna. How his work in one of those endeavors helps us understand the situation the media industries face.
February 7 – What Ultimately Are Causing the Media Change? Meet Gordon Moore, Martin Cooper, and Gerald Butters. The interactions of what they observed. Will change stop in your lifetime? The clockwork towards technological singularity.
February 9 – What Has Been the Greatest Change in Media History? Are New Media merely traditional forms of media put online or manifestations of something much larger underway? What has been the greatest change in media to occur in human history?
February 14 – Across the Spectrum of Change. How the greatest change in media history affects the practices and businesses models of journalism, entertainment, and information, and even the content of those fields. Why Social Media are manifestations of this change and the ‘tidal shift’ resulting.
February 16 – The Economics of Content and the Contents of Surplus. Why traditional media business models are failing. How supply & demand specifically affects value and attention and value. Why fewer and fewer people will pay for traditional content, and use it less frequently and less thoroughly—no matter if the content is delivered via traditional forms or online. How content must change. How, where, and when to charge for what content?
The next five weeks provide practical information about how to prosper and adapt to changes in various fields and formats of media during the 21st Century.
February 21 – Web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, and the Internet Timeline. How you only have to remember two things about the geologic timescale of New Media. How a host of people, almost all of them in their twenties, had the courage of their ideas and have changed the world.
February 23 – How Does Digital Work? What Does Interactive Actually Mean? Do TurboTax® or the Intel Turbo Boost® really use turbochargers? Do the words digital and interactive actually have real meanings? Why knowing these meanings can lead media to success.
February 28 –Alphabet Soup: HTTP, CSS, SEO, SEM, XML, and ROI. How the Worldwide Web works. How to measure and improve your use of the Web and other interactive technologies. And why the refrigerator you buy five years after your graduation will know some good recipe for what it contains.
March 1 – What are Individuated Media? Should You Be Permissive or Intrusive? Will Mass Media continue to be the primary way people obtain news, entertainment, and information or will something else replace it?
March 6 & 8 – The Practices and Effectiveness of Online Advertising. Why something with such relatively small response rates is becoming the world’s primary form of advertising. Practices and problems.
March 14 & 16 – Spring Break Week.
March 20 – How New Media Differs Legally from Traditional Media. Technology outrunning the law and governments. COPA, CAN-SPAM, Safe Harbors, Personal Jurisdiction, SOPA, and Net Neutrality
March 22 – The Blogosphere. Does anyone actually earn money blogging? Should you or your company blog? What if everyone else is doing it? The revenge of ‘the people formerly known as the audience.’
March 27 – Going Mobile. Will mobile really change the media industries? What are the ‘G’s, Geolocation, Augmented Reality, and Goggling?
March 29 – Tweets, Check-Ins, Virtual Realities, and Loquacious Devices. The incipient deaths of keyboarding and handwriting. Meet the new intermediaries: Dragons, Siris, and HALs.
The final month of course examines the futures of various industries and provides practical information about how to prosper and adapt to changes in various fields and formats of media during the 21st Century.
April 3 – The Revenge of Paper. How tablet devices are just one of many primordial steps to something that replaces paper. A dress of OLED. Everything becomes a display. What will the book in the future do?
April 5 – The Revenge of Radio. How a medium once thought to be dying has become one of the most popular mobile app. Have you seen the radio station’s video? Individuation in radio. How Pandora teach Individuation, not Mass Media.
April 10 – The Future of Television. Brought to you by Ethernet television and a host of pretenders. The coming implosion of the U.S. television affiliate model. Can your local station survive? No borders except language and culture. Rights, Royalties, and Revanchism.
April 12 – The Future of Cinema. Digital projection to the home big screen versus the bigger screen with strangers at the mall? Had 3D gone flat? A holographic shell game: which of the ‘Peas’ is really there?
April 17 – A Tale of Two Parochial Countries. Who are the largest groups of nationals online? Why you should go abroad virtually before seeing all of the 50 United States. How a country that once led the world in interactive is now ranked in the teens. What you can learn from other nation’s New Media.
April 19 –Business Formation, Partners, and Practices. A primer about how to form a business legally and to deal with partners, investors, co-workers, or employees. How new technologies affect ownership.
April 24 & 26 – A Week of Best Practices from Worldwide. Who said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”?
May 1 – Course Summary & Evaluations.
Textbooks: There are no required textbooks for this course. No printed textbook is able to keep current with the changes radical underway in the media industry. Besides, this is a New Media course, so the instructor will assign online readings. The instructor can recommend specific books about New Media which students in those specific majors should read.