It is safe to say that the media industry has been going through some carthartic changes in the last 10 years. The main drivers have been technological changes such as online stores that support digital downloads of music, books, movies and publications and the rise of social media as a tool to discover new content.
Just 10 years ago, I was reading physical newspapers, watching programmes on cable TV, watching movies in a movie theatre, and I had just started to rip my 300 CD collection onto my computer’s hard-drive. Now, my phone wakes me up in the morning, at which point I fire up mobile facebook and twitter aps to see what newsstories my friends or people I follow are reading. Over breakfast, I read RSS feeds on my tablet through an app developed by some guy in Australia (it’s called Early Edition if you are interested) that collates the stories into a newspaper format. If a columnist recommends a book, I might download a sample from the iBooks store or purchase it through the Amazon Kindle app on my tablet. My TV has been gathering dust in the garage for the past year because I now watch streaming video from any one of a host of iplayer type websites. I haven’t stepped into a movie theatre for years now, ever since I could rent movies through the iTunes Store or watch DVDs that are sent from TescoDVD. I am still trying to flog my last few CDs to charity shops (send me an email if you want the Stone Roses’ Second Coming CD, it’s really not that bad especially if you don’t compare it to all the other stuff they’ve produced).
The flipside to all this convenience is the narrowing margins for most media companies. Most companies have responded by cutting costs although some like BSkyB still enjoy good profits through their ownership of certain prized content such as live broadcasts of the English Premier League. There is a very real risk that cost reductions to combat these narrowing margins will lead to an erosion of the quality of content generated. On the other hand, there are publications such as the Financial Times and the Economist who continue to attract paying subscribers (including myself who only reads their digital versions) because they have continued to uphold their journalistic standards and they are able to stand out in a sea of less credible alternatives.
Against this fascinating backdrop, the Cambridge MBA is offering a bursary of £10,000 to a candidate from the media industry. We are looking for people who have an interest in the media sector, and want to drive changes in this industry. You could be a journalist; a film producer; someone who works in a publishing company; someone works in a recording company etc. The successful candidate will have to present a seminar to the MBA Class on a media-related topic. It should be a great discussion if our track record of attracting students from the media sector is anything to go by. This year’s class includes a Chinese TV correspondent who was based in DC; an editor of one of the most popular English language blogs in Shanghai and a student who negotiated licencing deals for one of the world’s largest publishers.
Those who are interested can find more details at