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Northwestern San Francisco

Medill journalism master’s students will study media innovation in San Francisco


For decades, Medill has defined excellence in journalism and integrated marketing communication education. Now, at its new San Francisco site, Medill brings together students passionate about the intersection of journalism and technology with innovation leaders throughout the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

Medill’s new Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIE) Specialization is for journalism master’s students who want to create media tools, products and publications to enable powerful storytelling. 

San Francisco is an international hub for design thinking and product development. Medill alumni have built their careers as leaders in media innovation, which allows students to get unparalleled practicum experiences and access to top Medill alumni.

“All our fall instructors are Northwestern alums at the top of their fields,” said Rich Gordon, Medill professor and director of digital innovation. “Being in San Francisco gives our students access to the best and brightest people at the forefront of innovation.”

Eleven students make up the first MIE cohort. After spending their summer quarter in Evanston, they will spend fall 2016 in San Francisco, based at Northwestern’s 44 Montgomery Street location. In addition to three classroom-based classes, each student will also be embedded within the innovation community through a two-day-a-week practicum at a Bay Area media or tech company. The students will finish their third and fourth quarters in Evanston and Chicago.

“What will differentiate them is that they understand content, certainly, but also business and technology, and are able to work in an organization where they have to be literate in all those things,” said Gordon. “You belong in this program if you’re interested in the product level rather than the story level. You want to create apps, websites, email newsletters, and other tools and channels that communicate stories for your organization.”

The three classroom-based courses will teach the MIE students how to determine people’s unmet needs for media products, how to find business models to support them, and how to collaborate with programmers to build software:

In San Francisco, MIE students will work in teams to develop and pitch ideas for publications or media products  in the NUvention Web+Media entrepreneurship course they’ll take in the Winter and Spring 2017 quarters. The interdisciplinary NUvention course gives the Medill specialization students a real-world experience teaming up with software developers, MBA students and designers to build and launch a media or technology product.

“A journalism education is valuable in many types of jobs, and that’s always been true,” Gordon said. “Now that we have these digital channels, every organization is – or should be – a media organization. Every company has a website, and they might have email newsletters and apps. They publish and use content as part of their business strategy. That means that the skills we teach at Medill and within MIE can be applied to all kinds of organizations.”

In addition to the MIE specialization students, current MSJ students who want to take the San Francisco courses can do so as an optional fifth-quarter program.