“In industry everyone focuses on achieving agreed-upon common goals. But in academia, everyone functions in their own bubble. We all work on our own research interests and we collaborate only when it’s necessary.”
–Molecular Biologist Gavin Knott, quoted in The Code Breakers by Walter Isaacson (2021).
It is no secret that I have had trouble reviving the Digital Deliverance Newsletter in emailed version rather than the printed and postal-mailed version I published two decades ago (1997-2007). Trying to restart it while simultaneously teaching ten to 20 postgraduate students in my New Media Business course in the New Media Management master’s degree curriculum at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications has proved, let’s say, overly ambitious.
So, I’m solving this problem in the most radical way: I have stopped teaching, taking an unpaid leave to do so. I’m instead concentrating on this newsletter, plus on converting many, if not most, of my New Media Business course’s lessons into short YouTube videos.
Why stop teaching and instead restart a defunct newsletter? I’ve two reasons:
First, I have known for more than a dozen years that I’ve been teaching the wrong audience and not the people who gravely and immediately need lessons. More than 95-percent of the 319 postgraduate students whom I have taught since 2007 had never worked in the media industries. Most are 22-year-old students who had received their baccalaureate degrees and either additionally want a master’s degree before starting to work in the media industries or else want to obtain a master’s or doctoral degrees and themselves becoming instructors or professors of media despite never having actually worked for any media company.
Moreover, half of my 319 postgraduate student had did not earned their baccalaureate degrees in any media major prior to enrolling in the New Media Management master’s degree curriculum in which I teach. In other words, mine is the first media course half of my students have ever had. (If I had any control of admissions to my postgraduate class, I’d require incoming students to have either a baccalaureate degree in a media major or I would have to interview those who don’t before accepting them.)
The result of the majority of my postgraduate student never having worked in the media industry and approximately half of them never before having had a media course is this greatly reduces what I can teach them during a 13-week semester. It means I must do remedial teaching despite my course being at postgraduate level! Not only do I have to teach them how to solve problems the media industries face but I must first spend time introducing them to what and why those problems are. I wouldn’t have to do that if all my students had media baccalaureate degrees or significant work experience in the media. I approximate that this remedial teaching consumes one-quarter to one-third of my 13-week course, dropping the efficiency of my course proportionately that much. I otherwise could teach a quarter to a third more material. .
Furthermore, because most of my students lack of actual experience in the media industries, I’d quickly during my first several years of teaching that they tend to underestimate the dire nature of the epochal problems the media industries now face. Most upon first entering my classroom simply presume that the older adults who are senior executives in media industries or are instructors like myself have already solving the problems and so that is what they are their to learn. Hence, most expect the solutions are readily available.
Second, whatever their presumptions when they start my course, the pertinent reality is that they probably won’t be in positions to implement any solutions soon. They are unlikely to become become senior executives of media companies for several years after graduating from my university. Meanwhile, the accelerating decline of the world’s traditional media industries and its understanding of the epochal changes underway will become ever graver, more dire. Twenty-two-year-olds are not who I should be teaching now,
I instead should be directly teaching the older adults who run traditional media companies. They desperately need the lesson more than twentysomethings do. Indeed, those senior executives are to whom I consulted full-time during the ten years before I began teaching in university. In fact, unlike most of the other instructors and professors at my university, I am not a pedagogue by profession. My avowed purpose in life is not to teach things for the sake of teaching but to solve the problem of how the media industries now must change and adapt to survive as the Industrial Era ends and to the Informational Era starts. Restarting the Digital Deliverance newsletter is an integral part of that.
Oh, and by the way, what are the lessons which need to be taught to the senior media management of traditional media companies now that the Informational Era is superseding the Industrial Era? An overview was published in the most recent edition of the 1ournal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability and is basically what I teach during the second week of my 13-week postgraduate course.