Digitally speaking, we have lots to say! At the NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program, we offer a wide range of courses to help our students understand the latest digital strategies, platforms, and business models. So, to tell you more about what’s happening this semester in a few of our digitally-focused courses, we asked each of four professors a question about what’s new and anticipated in their classrooms:
Question for Ana Maria Allessi, Vice President and Publisher of HarperAudio, who teaches eBooks and Digital Transformation: Methods and Models
Q: You have worked with ebooks since 2005 and started teaching eBooks and Digital Transformation: Methods and Models in fall 2014; in just two years, so much has changed in the digital publishing and eBook landscape! What modifications have you made to the course to keep pace with the market, and what new subjects will you tackle this fall?
A: We all know that digital formats are driving quite a bit of change within the overall publishing business and we embrace the need to ‘see around corners’ when it comes to digital publishing. One critical component of the class is a weekly assignment where students to prepare a ‘trend report’—a summary of an industry trend, challenge, or innovative solution to a problem. Most importantly, each student presents a personal analysis on how that topic influences the business of publishing.
This semester guest lectures will include Adam Silverman, Senior Director of Digital Business Development at HarperCollins Publishers, who will discuss new business models; and Kate Lee, Head of Content Development at the publishing platform Medium. Kate will discuss how Medium influenced both long-form journalism and traditional book publishing.
These are some of the planned conversations we’ll have in class this fall, though experience tells me that it’s impossible to predict all of the topics we’ll debate throughout the semester!
Question for Laura Schocker, Executive Editor at Real Simple.com, who teaches Web Editing and Writing
Q: Editing and Writing for the web requires a different mindset than what many students are used to in the classroom. And as someone who has worked in both print and digital media, you bring a special perspective. What do you think is most important for creating successful digital content, and how do you help students build the skill set to write for digital platforms, including mobile and social media?
A: The great news is that the skills you need to tell a story digitally are the same ones you need to tell a story in any other format: strong reporting and clear storytelling. What’s different about digital is that you have a wide variety of paces and formats—you could need to get a story up in 10 minutes, a day, or a year, and you can tell a story in so many different ways: a deeply reported article, a video, a listicle, an Instagram story, an infographic, a Facebook Live event, etc. And the best way to tell a story tomorrow might not even exist today. The key is to learn how always to be adaptable and to ask yourself, “What is the best way to tell this story within my deadline?” Then you go back to the basics of good journalism to get it done. Being able to move seamlessly between platforms is essential for today’s editors—whether it’s from Facebook to a mobile website or from print to digital. In the classroom, we will look at how the same story can be told across different devices and formats to best serve the audience, workshopping true-to-life examples to master digital storytelling. We’ll also learn how to edit and write efficiently without sacrificing quality.
Q: The way content is created and distributed on the web has undergone major changes since you started teaching in the program in 2011. As you instruct students in designing engaging web content, what are the new rules/guidelines they need to keep in mind in terms of how audiences enter a site and how to keep them there?
A: In the Web Architecture and Content Creation course, we study the always changing habits of users and how they discover and consume content. Facebook and Google are gobbling up all the traffic, so if a user is coming to your site, that’s great news. But don’t mistreat that user by serving sloppy ads and signups. We all need to make money, but do it in a restrained manner. And respect the UX [User Experience] by using clean navigation elements and a sensible hierarchy. In this class, we spend time learning best practices for creating compelling content and growing site traffic. Since Facebook is a huge source of traffic, it’s not enough to simply post your content there. Your content must be structured data that is easily parsed by Facebook’s Instant Articles, and that means using metadata in a smart, consistent way. You also need to create compelling, socially-optimized visuals. We use class time to explore different ways to break through the noise and achieve maximum share-worthiness.
Question for Meghan Deans, Marketing Director at Ecco at HarperCollins Publishers, who teaches Advanced Social Media Marketing Practices
Q: Many people view social media as a difficult subject to teach, particularly because most millennials feel they are experts. How do you build upon the basics of social media and take that to a new, advanced level that will help students in the publishing world?
A: I’m looking forward to teaching students who have experience with social media! This class is all about putting those skills to good use, and developing creative campaigns that reach readers. Good social media marketing is about more than knowing how and when and where to post a cat meme (although that’s a big part of it, no doubt). We’ll be discussing community-building, social listening, multi-platform campaigns, and how best to take advantage of new and growing outlets. We’ll also take a look at the business side of social media marketing, particularly as it relates to corporate strategy, crisis management, and customer service. It’ll be practical and useful and probably a little bit fun (because of the cat memes).
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