Media Summit panel ponders digital growth, consequences

A panel of industry experts dug into all things digital, social and mobile during the sixth annual Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit at SUNY Oswego Thursday.

The 2010 Media Summit panelCo-anchor for Albany’s Newschannel 13 and 1976 alumna Benita Zahn, moderated a panel that included new media representatives from NPR and Apple, an established digital marketer and a 3-D television entrepreneur.

“[Communications] has always been a sort of high-wire profession of pressing deadlines, live broadcasts and new technologies moving rapidly from initial conception to almost magical implementation,” SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley said in her opening remarks. “But the speed of developing technologies today has become mind-boggling.”

In a packed Sheldon Hall ballroom holding 300-plus, the panel pondered the ultrafast pace of technological development and the impact of this sea change in the years to come.

“For me, it’s an incredible time to be alive,” said Dr. Jon C. Landis of Apple’s Northeast Education Development Executive Team. He later added that “this is bigger than the industrial revolution in my mind, in terms of the shift in human culture.”

Web-based phenomena like Facebook and Twitter have not only changed the way people communicate, but how they live … and how commercial enterprise can reach them. The growth of mobile applications supported by the likes of the iPhone have brought on social media like Foursquare, which broadcasts the user’s location.

Companies have begun targeting potential customers based on information they make available on these sites. While some might find this a convenient way to find goods and services, others have raised privacy concerns.

“You have to ask yourself whether it’s relevant to you or creepy,” 1998 Oswego alumnus Michael Cassidy, founder of digital marketing and media-buying firm Undertone.

Panelists suggested that the last few years show the digital future is near impossible to predict. But, traditional media are still in the picture.

Vicki Betihavas believes television will remain relevant for quite a while yet. She and her U.K.-based company Nineteen Fifteen are on the forefront of production for 3-D television.

“I do think in 10 years [the 3-D option] will be a choice that everybody can make,” Betihavas said.

The concept of new media thrives on the ever-growing number of avenues for consumption, she said. In similar fashion, the changing media landscape has put the role of gatekeeper into the hands of the masses.

User-created content has never been so practical or accessible, but it hasn’t deteriorated the quality or accuracy of content, said Andy Carvin, a social media strategist for NPR.

Services like Wikipedia open the door to experts, who can improve accuracy online.

“It ultimately corrects itself,” he said. Even a rumor on Twitter can be busted within minutes because so many people are monitoring the medium. “That’s what is going on out there; you have so many experts with information to pass along.”

In the spirit of this year’s “Are you ready for the new media?” theme, the Media Summit was webcast live for the first time this year.

Cable television pioneer and 1977 Oswego graduate Louis A. Borrelli Jr. founded the summit in 2005 with a leadership gift. Three years ago, he and NBC “Today” show co-host and weatherman Al Roker, class of 1976, provided funding to name it in honor of O’Donnell, longtime chair of Oswego’s communication studies department, who passed away in 2007.

Panelists who are world-renowned experts in media issues interact with students in classes and discussions in a day-long event that culminates with the panel session.

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(Posted: Oct 14, 2010)

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