Media Work in Class

This Fall Semester I'll be teaching a graduate course at Indiana University roughly based on Media Work (Polity Press, 2007), and a list of "best of" readings on the topics of media & social theory, media management, and the particular media industries (journalism, advertising/PR/marketing, film & TV, computer and video games, music and recording). Below is the outline of the course - feel free to contact me if you want the official syllabus.

Media Organizations
Fall Semester 2008

Course Description

The world of media is changing rapidly, or so it seems: audiences for mass entertainment are dwindling, teenagers are more likely to blog than to ever read a newspaper, and job cuts in the US media industries are rampant as the production work gets outsourced internationally. Yet at the same time more media gets produced and consumed all the time. Every year we spend more time watching TV and movies, playing computer and video games, listening to music, following the daily news. Surely this must be a golden age for the media business?

This course explores this fascinating paradox by going deep inside the organizations across all the media industries (including journalism, advertising, marketing and public relations, film, radio, TV, music and recording, computer and video games) that produce culture for our global economy. Our focus is on understanding and analyzing the most current paradigms and key debates within these industries regarding financing, management, production, marketing and distribution of content and experiences.

The Media Organizations course expects students not just to understand and master the past and present of the ways media organizations function and media careers are made. A significant part of the grading in this course will be based on your ability to come up with new and innovative ways to think about future strategies for media professionals and organizations. The literature for this course focuses on academic and trade readings in the area of media production and management, including works on design, the management of creativity and innovation, legal and financial aspects, the economics of production and use, labor issues and work rules, ethics, and organizational communication.

In combining theories about media work, learning research methods for understanding media organizations, and developing conceptual strategies for media industries, students will learn all aspects of theory and practice regarding the way media are made.

Required Readings

This class will use a combination of a key book (“Media Work”, by the instructor, published by Polity Press in 2007) and key readings from academic peer-reviewed journals in a wide variety of disciplines, as well as profession-specific journals.

Additional Readings

For those interested in greater detail about the varies media, cultural and creative industries, issues related to media management and economics, and the creative process in general I suggest checking out my Amazon Listmania! list on “Working In The Media”.

Class Meetings

This is a course intended delve deep into the issues, debates, constraints and challenges facing professionals and audiences in the day-to-day operations of media industries. Students are expected to adopt multiple perspectives in your analysis of media work: of the seasoned professional or enthusiast newcomer, the manager or director, the marketing strategist or creative artist, the content-generating user as well as the passive consumer. Course lectures will include PowerPoint presentations, videos, and brief classroom exercises. Students are expected to subscribe to industry newsletters and blogs (through RSS feeds) as well as be prepared to introduce case studies and other examples to the class relevant to the issues under debate that day. As we will be with a relatively small group, a lot of what students will get out of this course will depend on what they bring to the discussions and presentations at class meetings.

Media Industry News

Industry Reports/Market Analysis
Media Info Center

IWantMedia Headlines
Mediaweek Daily Briefing
Benton Foundation Headlines
MediaBuyerPlanner Daily
iMedia Connection News

Blogs/RSS Feeds
Jack Myers Report
Mediabistro Media News
Corante Media Hub
Jim Romenesko’s Media News
MIT Convergence Culture Consortium

Assignments and Papers

Students' work in this class is based on three key elements:

•First, participation in the class. This will be measured by a combination of active contributions to class discussions and presentations, and by the quality of the materials (examples, discussion topics, case studies, news analysis) students bring to each class.

•The second element is a theoretical literature review paper that students will submit in one draft and one final version during the semester. This paper will cover all the relevant class readings plus a number of additional readings related to a particular topic this class covers.

•The third and most significant element of this course is a final individual project paper. In this work, the student will draft a manifesto of their own vision and idea(l)s regarding working, managing, or studying the media industry. This project paper will have practical as well as theoretical components, and can be used as the starting point for thesis work, an individual research program, or as a business and strategy plan for the students' own media organization and career objectives.

Grading & Evaluation

Participation/Media News Analysis 30%
Literature Review Paper 30%
Final Strategy Document 40%

Course Schedule

Topic/ Readings
Introduction/ Syllabus
Overview; Course Outline/ Preface to “Media Work” (hereafter: MW)
Media & Social Theory (I): Society and Visibility/ Terje Rasmussen; John Thompson
Media & Social Theory (II): Media and the Network Society/ Manuel Castells; Gustavo Cardoso
Media & Social Theory (III): Living a Media Life/ John Urry; Scott Lash
Media & Social Theory (IV): Liquid Life, Work, and Media/ MW Ch1

The New Cultural Economy and the Creative Class/ Allen Scott; Richard Florida
Media as Cultural and/or Creative Industries/ David Hesmondhalgh; Andy Pratt; Terry Flew
Media Work and Convergence Culture/ MW Ch2; Henry Jenkins; Yochai Benkler
Media Professions in a Digital Age/ MW Ch3; ILO 2004
Media Organizations and the Production of Culture/ Richard Peterson & Narasimhan Anand; Paul DiMaggio

Media Management (I): The Challenge of Culture, Creativity, and Innovation/ Lucy Küng; Edgar Schein; Emmanuel Ogbonna & Lloyd Harris
Media Management (II): The Challenge of the Transnational/ Amelia Arsenault & Manuel Castells; Susan Christopherson; Sylvia Chan-Olmsted & Byeng-Hee Chang

Media Industries: PR, Advertising & Marketing/ MW Ch4; Gernot Grabher; Sean Nixon
Media Industries: Journalism/ MW Ch5; Kenneth Killebrew; Ann Hollifield; ILO 2006
Media Industries: Television/Motion Pictures/ MW Ch6; Allen Scott; Helen Blair; Neil Coe & Jennifer Johns
Media Industries: Game Design and Development/ MW Ch7; Mia Consalvo; Greig de Peuter & Nick Dyer-Witheford; Jennifer Johns
Media Industries: Music and Recording/ Keith Negus; Jonathan Gander & Alison Rieple; Valerie Vaccaro & Deborah Cohn

Media Organizations, Work, and Management/ MW Ch8