The minor in Media Arts hosted a panel discussing the current state of the media industry on April 24 in the Tabler Arts Center.
The panel was part of the Shirley Strum Kenny Students Art Festival, an annual monthlong series of creative events across campus.
Ernie Canadeo, CEO and the founder of the EGC group, sat as a panelist, along with Joanna Durso, a senior career counselor at the Career Center, Rick Eberle, the founder of the Rick Eberle Agency, David North, a broadcast journalist and David Widmer, vice president of Altice Media Solutions and News 12.
The panel began with a brief introduction of the panelists, an overview of their careers and how they became involved in the media industry. Students with majors varying from political science to economics posed questions to the panelists about aspects of their work and how the media has changed from when they first started.
When asked about his favorite part of the industry, Widmer replied, “The media industry is changing. One of the parallels is that there are jobs out there that you don’t know exist.”
The discussion touched on current issues within the industry, such as geo-targeting of major companies like Facebook. Geo-targeting has become an increasingly popular marketing strategy companies use to send advertisements and tailored content to users based on their geographic location. This sparked a debate over the benefits of geo-targeting boosting in-house sales versus the issue of consumer privacy.
Eberle talked about the geo-targeting and companies acquiring interest data as a “double edged-sword,” making a comparison to Amazon’s suggested book list based on a consumer’s recent purchases or searches.
“I know with my company I spend an enormous amount of money on Facebook ads and if you know how to do it, it gives you huge business,” Eberle said.
The issue of influencers in the media industry, specifically Instagram and Facebook ads, was a concern to many students. They viewed influencers as intrusive, with one student arguing that their interests and ads should not be limited to their search history.
Widmer made the point that creating interest-based data can help companies understand the interests of younger generations in this developing digital age, saying “compared to five, 10, 20 years ago, we’re a little bit more in tune to what’s going on out there, in terms of execution and so forth.”
A few of the panelists questioned the students about social media usage and how they receive most of their news. Most of the students use platforms like Snapchat and Facebook as a main source of news; it alerts them about what’s going on around the world and even what’s happening on campus. One student confirmed that “if something ever happens like the chemical spill recently in the Chem Building I found out about that like not even an hour after it happened” because of the Stony Brook story on Snapchat.
Students expressed their frustrations with marketing ideas regarding the changed layout of some of their favorite apps like Snapchat, leading to a significant decrease in their usage of those apps and news intake.
“I used to have a section for channels I wanted to watch. They used to have a whole bunch of channels and you used to swipe all the way to the fight to see them but now they changed it so there’s other influencers but I don’t know them,” one student said.
Panelists advised the audience that becoming involved in any industry, let alone the media industry, requires figuring out what they want to do and putting themselves out there.
“If you have an interest in working in media, or you’re interested in working at a newspaper or you’re interested in working at a social media company or something like that, one of the great things you can do is to find a way to get an informational interview,” Widmer said. “It’s just an opportunity for you to spend some time with somebody who’s in the industry that you might be interested in getting involved in.”
Kiara Arias, a freshman political science major, expressed her opinions about the panel. “It was pretty interesting to gain insight into the advertising world and learn about jobs that I didn’t know existed,” Arias said. “It was informative.”
Mai Kashihara, a sophomore environmental studies major, thought the talk was eye-opening and influential. “It was interesting for people like me who really want a job in that field and it was like a diverse group too,” Kashihara said.
Ilyasa Noya, a senior economics major, enjoyed the panel and thought it was really helpful.
“Despite being in a class, we assume this and that but hearing from them really helped see things from a business perspective,” Noya said.