Newhouse School releases inaugural Media-Nxt report

By Wendy S. Loughlin

September 5, 2017

The compendium, produced by students under the auspices of the school’s Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, examines emerging technologies already disrupting the communications industry

The internet, digital, mobile, streaming and other technologies and trends have dramatically changed the news, advertising, branding and entertainment industries in the last 20 years. A new report from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, released today, warns media executives to fasten their seat belts and get ready for more.

The Media-Nxt 2017 report is the inaugural compendium from the Newhouse School’s Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship. It provides an overview of, and additional resources on, six emerging technologies that are already beginning to change the media industry, plus four other technologies that are following fast-behind.

“So much is changing in the world of media: new creation tools and environments, new delivery and distribution channels, new devices for media consumption and interaction and new business models,” says Sean Branagan, director of the center. “Because media is becoming a high-tech industry, both industry professionals and students of the craft need to move faster, jump in and actively shape the future of media, rather than just adapt and adopt.”

The report was researched by a team of eight media-savvy graduate, undergraduate and doctoral students at the Newhouse School and edited by Aileen Gallagher, a former magazine editor and professor of multiplatform journalism.

This year’s report focuses on six areas of emerging media technology: Virtuality (a term coined to encompass augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 360 video), Machine Learning, Automated Image Recognition, Blockchain, Haptics and Conversational User Interfaces (CUI).

“We wanted to give a quick read to busy media executive so they can learn fast and be apprised of what’s coming,” Branagan says. “Unlike other articles and reports on emerging technologies, ours stays laser-focused on media, breaking down the impact we think we will see in three main areas: news and information, entertainment and positioning—namely advertising, branding and public relations.” All of these media areas are represented by academic departments at the Newhouse School.

A free version of the report, available at Media-Nxt.org, provides a 24-page, easy to scan overview most media executives need to stay abreast of these business-critical technologies.

The premium version includes a curated list of more than 30 early-stage media tech companies from all over the world. The list is intended to help more established media companies embrace relevant new technologies by connecting with the up-and-coming companies—perhaps through a pilot project, an investment or even an acquisition. Cost for the premium version, which can be pre-ordered at Media-Nxt.org, is $1,200, with a 50 percent discount offered to non-profit organizations and Newhouse alumni.

Inspiration for Media-Nxt came from Branagan’s Trendspotting in Digital Media course, which he teaches at the Newhouse School each fall. Over the course of the semester, a mix of both graduate and undergraduate students are exposed to concepts about futuring and new technology as they examine the future of media. The class includes several guest speakers in innovation and entrepreneurship from media companies as well as tech companies and non-media organizations with technologies and capabilities that may soon affect media.

“The students discuss and discover what’s real and meaningful, what’s happening, what just happened and what might happen,” says Branagan. “The course demands that these media students—who come from all disciplines in the Newhouse School—look at technologies fearlessly, talk openly about societal changes and movements and unearth industry trends and tremors in media. It requires them, as future professionals, to look at the media industry as anthropologists—seeking answers, insights and meaning.”

In 2016, former Coca-Cola marketing executive and Newhouse alumnus Tom Boyle ’83 heard about the class and took an interest, funding the report’s initial creation and design. The report was researched and written in late spring 2017 and completed over the summer.

Branagan plans to further expand Media-Nxt by hosting events and speakers, and offering sponsored research opportunities for media and tech companies to work with Syracuse University technologists and Newhouse School researchers. His goal is to provide a platform to help shape the future of media.

To download the 2017 Media-Nxt report, visit Media-Nxt.org.

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