Chris Shinn

Inside Annenberg's New M{2e} Minor

Many USC undergrads aspire to work in the media business when they graduate. But how are they supposed to keep up with an industry that is changing so rapidly?

That was a problem that Dean Ernest J. Wilson III wrestled with at Annenberg. Part of the answer comes with the brand-new interdisciplinary minor in Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship.

The goal of the program is to prepare students for leadership roles in fields such as film, television, music and news – all areas facing tremendous disruption.

The curriculum combines courses that provide students with the understanding of the economic forces that are reshaping these industries. It helps them evaluate the changes taking place in the market and equips them with the critical skills necessary to understand where these businesses will be heading in the future.

In addition, the minor, which is offered jointly with USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, allows students to take an idea they might have and turn it into something real.

The minor was launched by Annenberg Communications professor Christopher Smith and Journalism professor Gabriel Kahn. Both had observed first hand how disruptive forces were changing the media industry: Smith has studied and written about the television and music industries; Kahn, a former reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, saw how digital distribution was rewiring the nature of the news business.

“What makes Annenberg unique is that you can get an appreciation for the full spectrum of how these constitutive elements of the media business, the information business, add up together,” Smith said.

But the M{2e} minor is more than just a collection of courses. It also includes a rich stream of programming, including guest speakers and professional networking, designed to connect students with some of the most innovative players in the field.

This includes M{2e}’s Executive in Residence series, which brings leading thinkers from companies such as Facebook and Viacom to Annenberg to spend a week with students and faculty.

One of the goals of M{2e} is to create powerful opportunities for students outside of the classroom as well as inside. Joan Park, who graduated in 2014, has already benefitted from those connections.

“My understanding of how media and money connect definitely set me apart when I was applying for internships or jobs,” Park said. While at Annenberg, she took just about every M{2e} course that was offered. She is now working in the strategy department at Viacom and said that the majority of her co-workers have a finance or business background. Her M{2E} background was essential in preparing her for the position.