Anthony J. Pennings, PhD

WRITINGS ON DIGITAL STRATEGIES, ICT ECONOMICS, AND GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS

New York City’s Emphasis on Global Media Management

Posted on | July 11, 2014 | No Comments

Several years ago I started exploring whether it was prudent to create a degree program in Global Media Management. The idea was reinvigorated being here in South Korea in a program that is focused on global issues and skills. So I’m going back to some of my initial research when I was in New York City and Mayor Bloomberg and others recognized the need for skills and additional emphasis in this area.

“New York City is the media capital of the world, but—with the industry undergoing profound changes—it’s incumbent on us to take steps now to capitalize on growth opportunities and ensure we remain an industry leader,” warned New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself a founder of a multi-billion dollar media empire, while announcing several initiatives to help traditional media workers transition to the digital sector.

The initiatives came out of MediaNYC 2020, a program that gathered media and information technology executives along with government officials and university faculty to develop a NYC-based research lab, create digital media apprenticeships, offer a technology-equipment bond program to provide tax-exempt financing for media and technology companies, and award fellowships to 20 “rising star” digital media entrepreneurs every year.[1]

One very active participant in the Media NYC 2020 initiative was the The Levin Institute, a free standing institution of the SUNY system dedicated to researching global issues. They received a $300,000 grant from the Carnegie Institute to conduct a research and public engagement project to research the dynamics of globalization called New York in the World. The Levin Institute and the Economic Development Corporation of New York City (NYCEDC) hosted a panel discussion in 2009 called Media NYC 2020: NYC as a Global Media Center. It was part of the MediaNYC 2020 initiative that laid out the history of the media industry in NYC and the challenges to its major legacy industries: print, television, and advertising.

The panel followed a previous study examining the specific implications for education in the area of global media management. The Levin Institute interviewed more than 25 corporate practitioners, professors and students in the media industry to gain an understanding of the issues and challenges related to globalization facing the industry. These research strategies ranged from exploratory conversations with the leaders of global firms, in-depth critical incident assessments from leading analysts and additional input from consultants. Their conclusion: “The findings from this research confirmed and validated the urgent need and nuanced demand for a specialized, unique program in Global Media.” They elaborated:

    SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
    Across the board, our data gathering has revealed a critical deficit in global media talent. As the industry weathers the revolutionizing effects of consolidation and digitization, media companies both big and small must grow and innovate across borders and platforms in order to survive. This requires both region-specific and medium-specific knowledge; managers with a deep understanding of the dynamics of foreign markets and the singularity of multiple medias, who are capable of solving contextual issues and forging valuable partnerships. According to our conversations, these managers have been difficult to find.

    [2]

So the challenge is to continually define and address the talent needs in the global media sector. I recently defined several digital media “archetypes” of skills sets needed including:

  • Design;
  • Technology/Programming;
  • Business Management;
  • Communications;
  • and Analytics.

I might add Global Acumen to that list. Understanding the challenges and opportunities for digital firms operating at least in part, globally, requires strong sets of localization skills as well as the ability to scale operations and platforms across wide geographical and temporal spans. It’s a big world with a lot of different regions, countries, economies and cultures. I usually start my students of with several (4-10) required viewings of The Commanding Heights so they have some understanding of the dynamics of global political economies.

I like this phrase “the singularity of multiple medias” mentioned above. Going back to New York City, I commend Cornell University’s new program in “Connective Media” At NYU I created BS programs in both Digital Communications and Media as well as Information Systems and worked hard to integrate them. Cornell has partnered with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to offer a MS in Information Systems with a specialization in Connective Media. It looks to address the analytics component mentioned above by integrating the expertise of software engineers and data scientists with that of media content designers, production teams, and editorial staffs.[3]

As I mentioned in “Producing Digital Content Synergies,” media firms in this new digital environment are increasingly combining multiple sets of skills and expertise to cross-produce and cross-promote content concepts (think Harry Potter series or The Hunger Games) across the organization or in cooperation with other firms. This means utilizing a wide range of available production and post-production resources to develop, package, distribute and monetize cultural products and other digital properties and promote them in a number of global/local markets.

While this emphasis on global media management reminds me of the “Silicon Alley” phenomenon in NYC during the dot.com era, it also makes me wonder to what extent they had the idea right, but just had too much money and not enough time to develop the technology and business skills to make it work.

Notes

[1] This post “New Initiatives Will Help NYC Continue as the Global Media Capital in the Digital Age” on Bloomberg’s personal blog is an informative update on these initiatives.
[2] The summary of findings are from http://www.levin.suny.edu/global-media.cfm. This link appears to be no longer available and was accessed on 8/14/09.
[3] More information on Cornell’s new presence in NYC and Connective Media.

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AnthonybwAnthony J. Pennings, PhD is a professor of global media at Hannam University in South Korea. Previously, he taught at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas and was on the faculty of New York University from 2002-2012. He taught at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and was a Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii.

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  • About Me

    Professor and Associate Chair at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea. Recently taught at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, media economics, and strategic communications.

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