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MSJ students at the NUvention Trade show and prototype fair.MSJ students at the NUvention Trade show and prototype fair.

Media Innovation and Content Strategy

A degree for media entrepreneurs, strategists and innovators

The digital transformation of media has created new career opportunities for people interested in journalism, technology, business and audience research. The Medill Media Innovation and Content Strategy specialization will prepare you to build digital media products, develop content strategy -- or pursue media entrepreneurship by launching your own business.

About the specialization

As a student in this specialization, you'll learn how to find and tell great stories. You'll also take a deep dive into media products, learning how to create and build publications and content strategies that satisfy the needs of audiences. 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.

Medill Media Innovation students visit NerdWallet in San Francisco.
Students visit NerdWallet and other San Francisco media companies.

Why Media Innovation and Content Strategy?

Media organizations as well as non-media companies, nonprofits and government agencies all need new ideas and to develop publications and media products that will help them grow their outreach and sustain this growth for years to come.

Journalists who understand the process of developing media products—from content creation to software development, from audience behavior to business strategy—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

Watch an overview of the MICS specialization

Your Medill Experience

Medill Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship students pose for a photo at the ProPublica office in New York City.

Unique Student Experiences

The Media Innovation and Content Strategy specialization provides unique experiences for students—from building and launching new products and services, to visiting innovative media companies in New York City (pictured here), to visiting Medill alums at companies such as Google. These experiences help grads land jobs at companies across the country.

Student giving presentation on stage.


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

Learn about the curriculum
Students work inside of the Medill Chicago Newsroom.

Chicago and Evanston

You’ll spend your first three quarters in Chicago and Evanston. You’ll learn how media businesses work and build your understanding of digital publishing and audience engagement. Working with teammates, you’ll develop prototypes for a new publication or media product.

Learn about the Chicago newsroom
Students work together around a desk at Medill's San Francisco space.

San Francisco

You’ll spend your final quarter in San Francisco and be immersed in Silicon Valley’s thriving tech culture.  At the Northwestern San Francisco campus, you’ll take classes taught by faculty who’ve spent their careers in the Bay Area.  You’ll also have a part-time internship at a media or technology company.

Learn about Medill in San Francisco
Collage of photos from Medill Fridays events.

Medill Fridays

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

Learn about Medill Fridays
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. 

Learn about Career Services

Our Faculty

Headshot of 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.

View Gordon's Bio
Headshot of 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.

View Song's Bio
Headshot of Jeremy Gilbert.

Jeremy Gilbert

Jeremy Gilbert is the Knight Professor of Digital Media Strategy.  Before that, he was The Washington Post’s director of strategic initiatives, where he helped lead the transformation of the Post to an international, digital-first news organization.  His work and teaching focus on content and revenue strategies for media companies.

View Gilbert's Bio

Our Alumni

Headshot of Melissa Bell.

Melissa Bell (MSJ06)


Bell is the Publisher of Vox Media and co-founder of 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.

Headshot of Jordan Monroe Schultz.

Jordan Monroe Schultz (MSJ13)

Head of Audience Development

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.

Headshot of Jessica Hilberman.

Jessica Hilberman (MSJ05)

Integrated Marketing Lead

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