NYU Publishing Students on Next Generation Publishing

The last day of BEA was incredibly busy. Between speed dating and interviews, I only had time to hear the last half of my fellow NYU publishing graduates panel. The topic was What The Next Generation Thinks: New Voices In Publishing Speak Out, and I’ve listed some of the more memorable quotes.

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NYU Media Talk: Social Content, What’s Working? What’s Not? What’s Next?

Last night’s NYU Media Talk was informative, and one of the most entertaining talks I’ve attended. The topic was on social content, and how social media affects publishing. It was moderated by New York Times Media Equation columnist David Carr, chief strategist and editor-at-large for WaPoLabs Rob Malda, editorial director for Flipboard Josh Quittner, and editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed Ben Smith. Continue reading

Take my survey! (please)

If you read my blog, then you know that I’m a grad student at NYU, in the publishing program. I’m in my last semester of the program, and to graduate I need to complete a capstone project. If you have 5 free minutes (really, it only takes 2), please fill out my survey. I’m doing research for a potential subscription self-publishing website.

Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/yhePB3

If you’re comfortable, I’d also appreciate if you shared the link with your family and friends. Thank you so much for your time!

Women Entrepreneurs Festival 2012

More and more women are becoming entrepreneurs. To support and celebrate them, the ITP program at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts hosts an annual Women’s Entrepreneur Festival, also known as WE.

WE 12 kicked off on a Tuesday with an introduction by Mary Schmidt Campbell and a key note address from Arianna Huffington. She’s actually pretty funny and more down to earth than I expected.

Some of her takeaway quotes:

I am a life long learner […] which means, among other things, [I’m] never going to get bored

It’s important to integrate your personal and professional life. As long as you have one person to support you, through thick and thin, your dream has a foundation.

Failure is a stepping stone to success.

Taking risks is not a problem–you learn a lot along the way.

Entrepreneurship, leadership is being able to see what’s around the corner.

I believe there is such a thing as a spirit of the times. We’re moving [from competition/survival] to meaning and collaboration.

On Moms: I think when they take the baby out they put the guilt in.

Feel grateful for what you have at 25. You have a sense of possibility of everything.

There is absolutely nothing now that does not happen that does not involve technology.

Sleep is important […] I had dinner with a man who bragged he had only four hours of sleep. I thought, “If you had five hours this dinner would be more interesting.”

She also mentioned that The Huffington Post has two nap rooms–which employees are encouraged to use. Pretty cool.

The next day at WE was a long, information-packed, yet fun day of networking and learning from other successful women entrepreneurs. There were many panels, including ones about change makers, community makers, taste makers, and the all-important investors panel.

I was very fortunate to attend this festival, especially since hundreds of people applied and not everyone was accepted. To learn more about WE and find out how to attend next year, please visit their website. There are bios of all the panelists and attendees, and if nothing else, it’s a great networking site.

Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, NYU

Today, for the first time, I stepped into one of NYU’s 10+ libraries. Bobst Library definitely has the most interesting name, and it is huge–some of its study rooms and eating areas are underground. I hate to say it, but the NYU library is more impressive than the UCSB library (sorry Gauchos, if it’s any consolation I don’t even know what NYU’s mascot is…panthers? violets?)

Anyway, while at this massive library, I learned a few new things about digital financials. Well actually, not really, I just wanted to tie in what I’ve learned recently about digital financials. First off, digital ad revenue models are complicated and daunting. But once you get past all that, you can break it down into two main groups: direct and indirect ad impressions. Direct ads are ads the website’s sales team sold–pretty straight-forward. Indirect ads are where it gets tricky.

After a few digital financial classes and some side research, it seems indirect ads come from 3rd party sites that sell advertising on behalf of the website. This can happen with demand-side platforms, where all the ad information is aggregated on one platform, or networks, or exchanges. Direct ads are more profitable, but small start-up companies will have to rely more on indirect ads because they will not have enough traffic to make money from direct ads. And that’s all I’ve got for now.

Finally, an Optimistic Look at the Media

View of Washington Square from the Kimmel Center at NYU

That’s basically how the mandatory The Case for Media Optimism panel was described to us NYU publishing kids. I was skeptical about how the panel last night would go. After all, for the past five years of so all I’ve heard is about the death of print, the death of journalism, the death of media, etc. But I was pleasantly surprised.

The panel was moderated by David Carr, the media columnist for The New York Times, and participants included Dennis Crowley, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Foursquare, Steve Grove, the head of news and politics of YouTube at Google, David Eun, president of AOL Media and Studios, AOL, Inc., and David Karp, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tumblr.

If this group of people accurately represents the current media and technology industry, then there are a couple interesting observations. First, this panel was entirely comprised of men. For the most part, they were men under 30 or at the most, in their early 30s. Only two of them wore suits, the rest were in jeans, and one even came in a hoodie (which seems promising for someone like me who doesn’t like getting dressed up but wants to get into the publishing industry). Also, three of them were named David. There was going to be a fourth David, but he had to cancel last minute and instead was replaced by Grove. So it seems in order to be successful in this industry, I have to be a young man named David.

But all kidding aside, the top people in publishing seem to be men. Publisher’s Weekly cites that 85 percent of publishing employees with less than three years of experience are women. And yet, woman on average make $64,000 per year whereas men in the industry make $105,000. In the case where media meets technology, I suppose it makes sense the top people are male, since it’s mostly men who do computer programming. Still…

Also, the publishing industry is getting younger. The lines between media companies and technology companies are blurring–each of these men considered their company to be a bit of both–and unlike the old days, no one starts small and works their way up the corporate ladder anymore. Which makes now a great time to be in the business. Instead of asking for permission, you just go for it.

“These are people who saw something and built it, who thought of something and made it,” Carr said.

Karp, from Tumblr, said that from the last 10 years, blogging has matured into Tumblr. In addition to sharing your own content, you can easily pull in content from other people and feature it on your own blog. Videos, songs, quotes, photos–you name it, you can easily add it to your Tumblr blog. Newsweek started a blog a while back called Equality Myth. At first it was just a feature story meant to run in the magazine, but the author decided to create a blog and ask the community for input. It has since turned into a huge hit, that according to Karp, “will possibly survive Newsweek.” The key to its success was that it was a great thing for the community.

Grove, from Google, called YouTube a “platform.” “We’re defined by our users who upload content to our platform,” he said. The point of YouTube is to increase access to information and to improve consumers’ experience. But it is also important to bridge technology and media. Writers are still important.

According to Grove, “No technology completely on its own is going to get news right. You need journalists.” (whew!) With this in mind, Google recently donated $5 million in grants to journalists. $2 million went to the Knight Foundation, and the rest will go to international news.

Crowley from FourSquare had, I think, the most interesting company. According to him, “it’s all about the places you’re at.” I’d noticed recently how people on my newsfeed on Facebook kept “checking in” to places, though it wasn’t until last night that I knew what it meant. Basically, FourSquare lets you tell your network where you are at any given moment, and if you happen to be at the same place, you can easily meet up, or you can learn tips from them about the place, such as whether the food was good, how to flirt with the bartender to get free drinks, etc. It’s all about the insider information, to make your night more interesting and turn your life into a sort of interactive game, where you pick up different badges depending on your activities.

However, “the side effect of having all this information is you know where all your friends are […] it’s like your Maurader’s Map on your iphone.” I’m not completely sold on this idea yet, I guess I still value some privacy.

On the bright side, by “adding a layer on top of the real world,” FourSquare has “found that if we made badges people wanted to get, we changed their behavior.” This means that because of FourSquare, more people have actually been going to the gym more regularly. Carr had mentioned earlier that he was at a media event in Austin, TX earlier this year, and he was at the bar, when all of a sudden 200 people just got up and left. He found out later they had seen through FourSquare that the after party had started, and he said he had never seen anything move people so quickly as social media.

Eun at AOL said the company has been revamping and he considers it to be a starter-up. They’re trying to get the best of both worlds: media and technology. “We’re really equal parts,” he said. “We’re taking a look at how we can bring media and technology together to serve our consumers.”

What was really surprising to learn is how, even with Twitter and people’s shorter attention spans, there is still room for in-depth content.

Carr expressed concern that writers want people to have an intimate relationship with their content. He asked, “Brevity may be the soul of wisdom but is it really for the word business, should we be scared of this?”

Grove agreed that “we live in a clip culture” but that most people, if they find a topic they care about, will delve deeper. He thinks the media has to think more about marketing, since there are more sources, people can be more selective.

Crowley said FourSquare uses the short-form as a filter, and that consumers “boil everything down to nuggets.” He said the next step will be to run these nuggets through algorithms, so consumers can make sense of all this information.

According to Carr, people spend on average 70 minutes a day getting their news and entertainment via various platforms. So are all these companies competing with each other?

No, was the unanimous answer. In fact, Karp described the web as being an “ecosystem” and all these companies are complementary of each other. Partnerships are key, and so is being open to trying new things.

“We’re competing for attention, for audiences, at some level,” Eun said. But, he also added, “In this day and age, you’ve got to be confident working with other folks and making a one plus one equal three.”

I think the main point though, is that everything is still changing. It’s an exciting time, and digital media is still evolving. The Internet may have been started by male engineers, but now it’s about enhancing the experience for everyone, making advertising and content work together, and reaching out to as many people as possible. The media is not dead. It’s just going through it’s adolescence.