Teaching the business of media and journalism matters. Here’s how I’m doing it.
“Too few journalists care about media business models. Every week a senior journalist or editor tells me: it’s not my job to care, I trust our commercial teams, I just want to get on and do my words. The business of media, it seems, is none of their business.”
These words, written by my friend Dan Williamson, back in 2015 when we worked together at TheMediaBriefing (RIP) are at the heart of my journalistic and research interests, and something I have also tried to bring into the classroom.
I believe that it is fundamental for anyone graduating from J-School (whatever their specialism) to not just possess great craft skills and a sense of ethics and media history, but they also need to understand how the industry is changing and the strategic pressures — and decisions — their prospective employers are facing.
Aside from that the fact that understanding changing revenue models, evolving patterns of content consumption, and the potential afforded by new storytelling tools and platforms, is fascinating; time and again, I’ve also seen students with an understanding of these principles securing jobs (often over candidates with more experience, on paper) and I believe that their better placed to navigate the uncertainty of the digital future and their careers.
With that in mind, to help me, my colleagues and our students, understand some of the key trends reshaping the media and communications landscape, I set up the Demystifying Media speaker series at the University of Oregon in January 2015. Each term experts from industry and academia have generously shared their insights with us on a wide range of topics including the origins of data storytelling, local journalism, mobile usability, How NGOs blur the line between PR, Journalism and Advocacy and more.
This term, the lecture series has been expanded to also include a 2-credit workshop, exploring the issues our guests are sharing with us in more detail, as well as exploring other important topics such as Social Video, or the evolving narrative about tech and public perceptions of Silicon Valley.
I’ll say more about why that matters in due course, but for now, here’s a copy of the syllabus and an outline of the top-level skills that the class will give students.