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Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Never before has the journalism and media industry had to adapt so rapidly to the on-demand digital world that we live in today. If you’re excited about the idea of leading, launching or helping build digital media businesses, the Medill Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Specialization is for you.

About the specialization

As a student in this specialization, you’ll learn the principles of journalistic storytelling, but that won’t be the primary focus of your time here. Instead, you’ll take a deep dive into media products, learning how to create and build products and businesses that adapt to changing audience preferences and behavior. You also will spend three months at Northwestern’s San Francisco campus, where you’ll be immersed in the innovation and technology culture of Silicon Valley. 

The Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship specialization starts in the summer quarter.

Why Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship?

Media organizations as well as non-media companies, nonprofits and government agencies are looking to innovators and entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas and develop publications and media products that will help them grow their businesses and sustain this growth for years to come.

Journalists who understand the process of developing media products—from the way content is coded and distributed to the way audiences consume news to the way revenue is earned—are in high demand in forward-thinking organizations. You’ll be prepared for a wide range of exciting careers that need savvy media innovators, including content strategy, audience development and product management. You’ll also know what it takes to invent your own future.

What will I learn?

  • Storytelling methods as well as how to build media products and audiences
  • Valuable skills that position you to create your own media business or contribute to the success of a startup team or an established media organization:
    • Design thinking and research: Understand users’ needs and turn insights into product ideas
    • Agile development: Build software iteratively and collaboratively
    • Business model innovation: Identify the best approaches for generating revenue
    • Content strategy: Use content and social media to find and engage customers
    • The lean startup method: Identify a problem that people need to solve, build a solution, then “pivot” based on user feedback
  • What makes media businesses successful
  • How software engineering and the technologies that power websites, apps and other software products are changing the way people find and consume content
  • How to work with technologists, entrepreneurs and investors to turn media ideas into reality
  • How to succeed in a career at the intersection of journalism, media and technology

Your Medill Experience

Student giving presentation on stage

Curriculum

You’ll learn foundational journalism skills–research, reporting and multimedia storytelling–while also developing a deep understanding of digital technologies, media business principles and the art and science of product development.

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Chicago Newsroom

Chicago and Evanston

You’ll spend your first, third and fourth quarters in Chicago and Evanston. There you can engage with the start-up scene in Chicago and take the NUvention Web+Media course to pitch and launch a start-up media publication or product. 

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Students work together around a desk at Medill's San Francisco space

San Francisco

You’ll spend your second quarter in San Francisco and be immersed in Silicon Valley’s thriving tech culture. The Northwestern San Francisco campus provides easy access to nearby technology and innovation companies. You’ll take on a practicum at one of these companies two days a week.

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Knight Lab

Knight Lab

Team up with other students, designers, developers and educators working on experiments designed to push journalism into new spaces and develop new technology tools for journalists.

 

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Collage of photos from Medill Fridays events.

Medill Fridays

Learn what it’s really like to work as an innovator and disruptor by hearing from Medill alumni and other guest speakers who’ve done just that during their careers. Medill Fridays offer weekly programming opportunities on a variety of subjects, so you can broaden your learning beyond the classroom. 

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Student talking to a career advisor

Career Services

Companies are looking for people who understand journalism, technology, audience behavior and the business side of journalism. Your education at Medill will open up new career paths in media and non-media organizations. Take advantage of the Medill alumni network as you make connections to further your career. 

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Our Faculty

Rich Gordon

Rich Gordon

Gordon is a professor and director of digital innovation. He has spent most of his career exploring the areas where journalism and technology intersect, and he was the first new media director at The Miami Herald.

Mary Lou Song

Mary Lou Song

Based in the San Francisco area, Song is an adjunct lecturer at Medill. She joined eBay in 1996 as the company’s third employee. Since then, she has worked at and founded several start-up companies.

Zach Wise

Zach Wise

Wise is an associate professor and a member of the Knight Lab, where his projects have been used by thousands of journalists in more than 50 languages and have been seen by hundreds of millions of viewers

Our Alumni

Melissa Bell (MSJ06)

Melissa Bell
Publisher
Vox Media

Bell is the Publisher of Vox Media and co-founder of Vox.com. She leads Vox Media's Growth and Development team. Prior to Vox Media, Bell oversaw digital platforms at the Washington Post. She was also one of The Post's most-read bloggers and a columnist for the Style section. Before joining The Post, she helped launch Mint, a Wall Street Journal subsidiary in India.

Jordan Monroe Schultz (MSJ13)

Jordan Monroe Schultz
Head of Audience Development
Atlas Obscura

As the head of audience development, Schultz is based in New York City where he oversees distribution, social media, data analysis and more for Atlas Obscura, the definitive guide to the world's hidden wonders.

Jessica Hilberman (MSJ05)

Jessica Hilberman
Integrated Marketing Lead
Google

As a lead on Google's employment marketing team, Hilberman manages the product and content for careers.google.com and implements strategies for online hiring via owned, social and paid media. She has also lectured at Medill San Francisco.