Media Summit panel: New consumer culture accelerates change

O'Donnell Summit 2008 The revolution will not be televised ... but, it is on YouTube.

Sports, radio, music and television industry leaders talked about the radical impact of social networking Web sites and audio/visual innovations during a discussion about the “Media Revolution” Wednesday.

The Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Summit brought together media executives, alumni and students for the fourth annual day of class visits and the panel. This year’s Media Revolution theme focused on trends that are shaping all facets of mass communication in the years to come.

“Probably the thing that has changed the most is everything,” said Erica Farber, 33-year veteran of broadcast and current publisher/president of the influential Radio & Records magazine. “It’s faster, quicker and if you’re not moving, you’re going to become obsolete.”

Modern media is shifting from a top-down distribution model to a consumer-controlled culture established by on-demand YouTube videos, portable mp3 audio files and the explosive growth of free online social networks like Facebook. It only gets bigger from here, panelists told a crowd of 300 gathered in the Sheldon Ballroom.

“We see a tremendous opportunity there,” ESPN.com Editor/Producer Scott Stiegman said of an increasingly international audience with a growing appetite for streaming video and interactive Web content. “We call ourselves the worldwide leader (in sports), we want to underline the ‘world’ part of that.”

Even the struggling music industry, hard-hit by the proliferation of Internet piracy, is discovering ways to grow in millennial media.

“We’re seeing so many opportunities in the marketplace,” said J. Scott Dinsdale, executive vice president of digital operations and new technology for Sony BMG. “Growth is not a term you’ve heard in the industry for a while, but it’s starting to creep back in again.”

Earlier in the day, Dinsdale discussed the toll of piracy on the music industry and the search for new ways to give listeners—especially college-age consumers—an alternative to virtual thievery. Sony BMG and other major labels are developing MySpace Music, a Web concept that combines social networking with music file sharing, Dinsdale said during the panel discussion.

Television is experimenting with Web-based models as well, 1981 Oswego graduate Steve Leblang said. Many networks offer streaming versions of their programming and additional content on the Web through their own sites or emerging episode collections like Hulu.com.

Media analyst and panel moderator Jack Myers predicted the television experience—both online and in the living room—will be radically different five years from now.

Student reactor and senior broadcasting major Candace Dunkley asked the panel how new graduates might approach the communications career field.

“People who have an appreciation for, an understanding of and even experience with this technology are the ones who will resonate (with employers),” said Leblang, senior vice president of strategic planning and research for FX Networks.

The new media landscape covers multiple formats, so job candidates need to be versatile, Stiegman said. For example, a writer for ESPN might also make television appearances, contribute to podcasts and produce different kinds of content for the Web.

Emil CalcanoAbout 45 students got some additional career advice from six recent Oswego graduates following the panel discussion. “How to Launch a Successful Media Career,” gave undergraduates the opportunity to visit with movie, sports, music, television and Web professionals in the lower lobby of Sheldon Hall. The inaugural summit event featured 2006 graduate and New York Yankee executive Emil Calcano, film editor Jeremy Ambers (class of 2000), Vinyl Artist Management owner Michael Gewirtzman (class of 2005), WROC-TV and WUHF-TV account executive Natasha Johnson (class of 2006), 9wsr.com Web producer Phil Rankin (class of 2006) and SciFi Channel Web coordinator Matt Romano (class of 2005). Alumnus Louis A. Borrelli Jr. of the class of 1977 founded the summit in 2005 with a leadership gift. Last year, he and Al Roker, a 1976 graduate, provided funding to name it in honor of O’Donnell, longtime chair of Oswego’s communication studies department, who passed away in 2007. Past guests have included legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, ESPN and ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer, and Oswego’s own Linda Cohn (class of 1981) and Ken Auletta (class of 1963). —END— PHOTO CAPTIONS: Going up—Summit panel moderator Jack Myers leads the “Media Revolution” discussion with, from left, Patrick Stiegman of ESPN.com, Erica Farber of Radio & Records, J. Scott Dinsdale of Sony BMG, Oswego alumnus Steve Leblang of FX Networks and student reactor Candace Dunkley, class of 2009. Revolution 6—Emil Calcano, class of 2006, talks with a small group of students about his job managing corporate sales and sponsorships for New York Yankees baseball during the “How to Launch a Successful Media Career” summit event. He was joined at the first-time event by five fellow young graduates working in media.

(Posted: Oct 23, 2008)

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