During the past 18 months, we’ve worked to build a consortium of higher education institutions that can help support Digital Media CT – a statewide education initiative funded by the CT Office of Film, Television, and Digital Media. This effort is designed to promote a talent pipeline for CT careers in film, television, and digital media. In my discussions with partner organizations, most folks have a common understanding of careers in film and television. However, I am nearly always challenged to address our position on digital media. The term is elusive, and there are different ways we can respond to this question. The simplest way to explore digital media is through an examination of the two words. Digital addresses digital technology (e.g., World Wide Web, mobile devices, etc.), while the second word considers means of communication. Therefore, digital media is primarily about designing content that communicates information using digital technology. This perspective is broad and highlights the difficulty in grasping the concept of digital media careers. For example, some of our partner organizations are mainly focused on game design and development. Does this definition accurately capture their specialization?
More recently, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with folks much smarter than me, folks who have conducted some studies about the economics of digital media and specific digital media clusters in Connecticut. During one of these conversations, digital media was presented as a skill set that is in high demand within our current economy. As more and more industries complete the transition to digital, the demand for digital media practitioners significantly increases. This situation is great for any student who graduates with skills in storytelling, animation, game design, marketing, graphic design, and communication – so long as these skills incorporate expertise in digital technology. We want – or need – these students to have the capacity to express their talents using multiple digital platforms.
I consider digital media as a space that produces content to solve a variety of communication problems. This view avoids making a specific reference to one industry and hopefully takes people beyond a limited perspective of digital media being an artform. Yes, art and design are a subset of digital media – as is computer science, business marketing, education, and communications theory. However, digital media practitioners are often challenged to design content that addresses a problem for someone else. This need is why the concept of design thinking, creativity, and problem-solving are vital for any skilled practitioner pursuing a career in digital media. It is also why the opportunities for digital media professionals expand far beyond CT’s media companies, and into the worlds of business, education, and even the sciences.
The main takeaway is digital media careers are everywhere, and Connecticut is a highly competitive state when it comes to digital content production and digital media marketing. In fact, in Fairfield County, the expertise in these two areas is significantly higher when compared to other places in the country. This is because digital media is not only a sort after skill by media companies like NBC Sports, WWE, ESPN, and iTV America (yes all located in Connecticut), but also non-media giants such as Henkel, Gardner, and Cigna. Whether a student chooses to focus on film, television, animation, game design, or web design, as a digital media practitioner, they will have exciting opportunities waiting for them in Connecticut.