NYC Media Lab Says NYC Media and Tech Industries Are Strong, But Challenges Exist

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State of Industry assessment on eve of organization’s “Summit 2021: Future Imperfect” outlines the emergence of micro-content and user-generated content, remote work, as primary issues facing Media and Tech industries respectively; Says new voices, ideas, ways to establish and fund startups are needed for long-term viability

Despite the challenges presented by Covid and the resulting lockdowns, the state of the NYC Media and Tech Industries is strong, but significant challenges remain.

That’s the assessment of NYC Media Lab, founded in 2010 to drive innovation and job growth in media and technology by facilitating collaboration between its university consortium and member companies.

The organization says that while both industries continue to thrive, changing realities are posing challenges that need to be addressed to assure long-term viability. In response, NYC Media Lab says the New York market needs to be aggressively open to startups and tech innovation and both industries need to bring new and different voices to the fore.

NYC Media Lab says with New York-based startups having raised some $22.4 Billion in the first half of 2021, up from $7.6 Billion during the same time last year, according to CB Insights, the market for these companies is healthy, but more needs to be done to maintain growth.

According to Steven Rosenbaum, Executive Director of NYC Media Lab, to lure the talent needed to drive both industries forward, New York must sell diversity and inclusion as the market’s strongest advantage. The city must promote its ability to provide access to different people, voices, skills, beliefs and vision - critical for innovation.

“New York used to be able to sell itself as being the center of everyone. Writers, storytellers, photographers, all would come here to be ‘in the mix,’” says Rosenbaum. “But the mix is now online, with less in person events or coffees. Will that change as COVID rescinds? In part. But as people have learned they can work remotely. That isn’t going to go away. New York needs to sell the ability to connect with a diverse talent pool, critical for these industries to continue to grow. That is what makes New York unique and powerful.”

A recent study from the Center for an Urban Future found that hiring for tech positions surpassed all other occupations in NYC between April and November 2020. According to official NYC statistics, the tech ecosystem in the city accounts for over 291,000 jobs and over $124.7 billion in economic output, with an 18% growth rate in tech sector jobs over the past ten years.

The state of both the tech and media industries will be the focus of the organization’s “Summit 2021: Future Imperfect,” which will take place October 6th and 7th virtually. The forum will include panels on the benefit of diverse teams; the role of storytelling, spatial computing and machine-generated content in media; green tech; the future of the space industry and more.

Keynotes will include a fireside chat with Laura Edelson, Ad Observer Co-Creator & NYU Tandon PhD Candidate. Launched in 2020, the Ad Observer extension provides better transparency for Facebook political ads. In August 2021, Facebook suspended the accounts of Laura Edelson and Damon McCoy, the NYU researchers behind the Ad Observer extension.

A fireside chat will also be held with Greg Brockman, Co-Founder & CTO at OpenAI, a research and deployment company dedicated to creating general-purpose AI that benefits all humanity. OpenAI recently released a large language model, GPT-3, and Codex—an AI system that translates natural language into working computer code.

Rosenbaum says the media industry in New York has endured in part because it has evolved as changes have impacted the broader media space. This would include television, radio, social media, books, and the emergence of AI as a platform for content creation, discovery, and amplification. The growing footprint of Facebook and Google in NYC, he says, has provided a powerful source of growth.

But the largest challenge the industry faces, Rosenbaum says, is the increasing emergence of micro-content, and user generated content on platforms like Snap Chat and Tik Tok. The tools to make content production less complicated and more agile creates a flood of content elements, making large media a smaller piece of users’ content consumption diet. Sites like Reddit, with unpaid creators and unpaid content moderation, also increase the volume of low and no-paid content.

The tech industry in New York, too, he says, is strong and growing, with the university system providing a steady stream of smart, engaged talent, as are startups.

But Covid has made remote work an accepted practice, and startups in particular are often challenged by New York’s high cost of living. Ensuring that these innovative companies keep NYC as their base, Rosenbaum says, will be difficult with most if not all of their teams distributed and working remote. That will present a significant problem for New York City as it looks to keep itself as the center of the media universe and in particular for the technology sector.

For the full NYC Media Lab “Summit 2021: Future Imperfect” agenda and to register for the event, visit:
https://futureimperfect.eventbrite.com.

About the NYC Media Lab
NYC Media Lab connects media and technology companies with New York City's universities to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent development. Comprised of a consortium including New York University, Columbia University, The New School, CUNY, School of Visual Arts, Manhattan College, and Pratt Institute, NYC Media Lab's goals are to generate research and development, knowledge transfer, and talent across all of the City's campuses. Created in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, the Media Lab is built on corporate membership. Member companies—which include Bloomberg, Havas, The New York Times, Verizon, and more—participate in roundtable events on technology issues; connect with one another and with faculty, students, and other university resources; and direct prototyping projects on various areas of interest from AI and spatial computing to 5G and immersive XR. More information is available at nycmedialab.org.

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Bill Daddi

Press at NYC Media Lab

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