What is New Media?
Understanding the numbers
When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.
This article was updated on Aug. 30, 2023 with additional contributions by Mars Girolimon.
New media doesn’t necessarily refer to a specific mode of communication. Some types, such as an online newspaper, are also “old media” in the form of a traditional printed newspaper. Others are entirely new, such as a podcast or smartphone app. It becomes even more complicated to define when you consider that as technology continues to advance, the definition continually changes.
New media is any media — from newspaper articles and blogs to music and podcasts — that are delivered digitally. From a website or email to mobile phones and streaming apps, any internet-related form of communication falls under its umbrella.
Earning a degree in this field can be an excellent way to develop a wide array of skills to work in media and technology across many industries.
“I think a degree in new media is of value because it helps hone the skills necessary to succeed in this industry, like writing, graphic design, video production and marketing,” said Christine Bord, an adjunct instructor in Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) liberal arts program. “This is also a very competitive field, and many employers are looking for candidates who have a degree in media and marketing.”
What Are Examples of New Media?
According to PCMag, new media refers to the "forms of communicating in the digital world, which is primarily online via the Internet." The term encompasses all content accessed through computers, smartphones and tablets.
That's in contrast to “old media,” which PCMag defines as all forms of communication that came before digital technology, including “radio and TV and printed materials such as books and magazines.”
It also constantly changes. As new technology is developed and widely adopted, what is considered "new" continues to morph. Once upon a time, DVDs and CDs were the latest way to watch movies and listen to music. Now, streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify are more popular.
Just a few examples of new media include:
- Mobile apps
- Social media networks
- Streaming services
- Virtual and augmented reality
“I think the most important thing to know about new media is that it is always changing,” Bord said. “Though this does make it a challenging field because professionals have to be aware of the constant changes in trends and technologies, it also makes it a very exciting and dynamic field to enter.”
Careers in New Media
Media is a vast industry that encompasses dozens of roles that leverage skills ranging from writing and oral communication to coding, graphic design and more. Some common positions for someone with a communications major or a new media degree can include social media manager, public relations specialist and marketing executive, Bord said.
But you don’t have to work in one of these roles to leverage skills you develop in a new media degree program. Robert Krueger is an adjunct in SNHU’s master's degree in communication. He said students often go on to work in communication roles at government agencies, hospitals and nonprofits.
“We also see a lot of journalists making the transition to communications, as well as high school teachers taking the next step by aspiring to become a professor at the college level,” Krueger said.
Thanks to developments of the internet age, you can earn an online degree at your own pace to launch a career working with digital content.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks many positions that new media professionals work in, including:
Social Media Specialist
Social media specialists are experts at representing a company or brand in the public sphere through social media networks such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, Instagram and more. They create and post content and communicate with customers.
Working in social media requires an ongoing commitment to learning and professional development because the landscape is constantly changing. There are always new tools to discover or new platforms to explore, so it's important to keep upskilling and stay on top of the latest trends.
Social media specialists usually have a bachelor’s degree in social media marketing or a related program, and they have familiarity with social media platforms and best practices. If you already have a degree in a different field, you might opt for a graduate certificate in social media marketing to learn the skills you'll need to move into a role as a social media specialist.
Moving up the career ladder, you could also become a social media manager and oversee social media marketing campaigns.
According to BLS, specialists working in marketing roles made a median salary of $78,880 in 2021.*
Because graphic design is performed virtually, the career is inherently tied to new media. However, the digital images graphic designers create have applications throughout new and old media alike.
As a graphic designer, you would be charged with creating visual images using computer software to market products and services and to tell stories. You would work with images and text and decide how they work together to effectively communicate via a website, for example, according to BLS.
In 2021, graphic designers made a median salary of $50,710, BLS reports.*
While earning this degree, you'll delve into branding and web design and learn to use graphic design software like Photoshop. You'll also create a portfolio of work and prepare to land a job or find clients as a freelancer.
For instance, Sarah Navarro '22 hit the ground running with a major project after earning her bachelor's in graphic design with a minor in communication from SNHU.
"Since graduating, I already accomplished a goal and dream with my degree," said Navarro. "I had the honor of being a part of a company's rebrand and designed the logo that is now on their storefront building."
She said everything she learned from her degree program came into play during this experience, and now the storefront is like a marker of her achievements.
"Any time that I drive past Small Town Couture, I am reminded that this opportunity, the logo design for their store, my capabilities, potential and success were gained from my degree at SNHU," Navarro said.
Marketing managers are executives who plan marketing and advertising campaigns based on market research and analysis and develop strategies to promote products and services to customers. As a marketing manager, you might also be charged with hiring promotions and marketing staff, meeting with clients and collaborating with other executives in a company — including public relations, sales and product development — to coordinate the role of marketing strategies within the larger company goals.
Marketing managers need a bachelor’s degree and usually have prior experience working in other marketing, promotions or advertising roles, according to BLS. Some employers emphasize the need for strong analytical, decision-making, organizational and communication skills and creativity.
Marketing managers made a median salary of $133,380 in 2021, and the position is expected to grow by 10% through 2031, according to BLS.*
The dawn of the internet age inspired so many developments in the field of marketing, and the field only keeps evolving along with technology and culture.
Through a digital marketing degree, you'll learn about all the different types of digital marketing, from search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click and social media marketing, to content marketing, email marketing and affiliate marketing. There are so many avenues to explore and roles associated with each specialization.
In addition to those positions, Krueger said the value of a new media degree can open up some industries that might not be obvious to you.
“Just as the saying goes about every business needs an accountant, I think that no business exists without a communications professional,” he said. “Most recently, I have come across many new media professionals who work in-house for large financial institutions and law firms.”
Bord agreed and said virtually every business needs to have a digital presence and should be interested in hiring media professionals.
“If you can think of an industry, chances are there is a new media position available within it,” she said.
Before Olivia Backus '23 started her bachelor's in marketing at SNHU, she was working in cosmetology and looking for a change.
"The schedule just did not work and I realized I liked the marketing process more than the job," said Backus.
With this realization, Backus decided to earn a degree that would help her transition to a new career in marketing — and that's exactly what she did.
"I graduated in January and I got a marketing coordinator job right out of school," she said.
From here, Backus hopes to move up into a position as a marketing director, but she's enjoying the benefits of her current role for now — including its salary.
"I can now financially provide for my family and that is something I have not been able to do before," Backus said.
Photographers are a good example of a profession that has had to adapt from “old media” as technology evolved. Instead of film and a developing room, photographers today are armed with digital cameras and are adept at working with a wide range of computer software.
There also are several types of photography you can specialize in, such as:
- Aerial or drone photography
- Commercial photography
- Fine art photography
- News photography
- Portrait photography
As a photographer, you might work for a business or even start your own business and work for yourself.
Before you get started as a professional photographer, you'll need to learn how to compose a shot, work with lighting and use photo editing software like Photoshop and Lightroom.
While a college degree isn’t required, many aspiring photographers choose to attend post-high school training programs to develop their skills. Many entry-level photojournalist positions do require a photography degree, according to BLS, and business and marketing degrees can also be helpful for self-employed photographers.
In 2021, photographers made a median salary of $38,950 with a higher than average 9% job growth through 2031, according to BLS.*
Public Relations Specialist
Public relations (PR) specialists also help maintain and improve a company’s public reputation and image but generally do so by working with media members in person and via press releases and other measures. They can take a lead role in corporate communications, too, including speeches given by company leaders.
To work in PR, you'll likely need a public relations degree or an education in a related field, such as journalism, communications, English or business, according to BLS. You'll also rely heavily on interpersonal, organizational and communication skills.
Public relations specialists made a median salary of $62,800 in 2021, and the field is projected to expand by 8% through 2031, according to BLS.*
If you're passionate about communicating with the public, PR might be your calling.
"I really love public relations," said Analiece Clark '23. After earning her communication degree from SNHU, Clark said her workplace is helping her move to a public relations role. She's hoping to move up from there and also is interested in international relations.
The internet has opened so many doors to create, upload and share video content — with that in mind, the growing opportunities for video editors should come as no surprise.
BLS reports a much higher than average 12% growth rate for film and video editors and camera operators from 2021-2031, who earned a median annual salary of $60,360 in 2021 and typically hold bachelor's degree in a related field.*
Not only do video editors work on the shows and movies you watch on streaming services like Disney+ or Netflix, many work with content creators and influencers on YouTube videos and TikTok reels, too. There are also roles for video editors to work with these platforms and others in the digital marketing world.
While there are still some opportunities to work in print media, many writers today find work in the digital sphere.
In addition to writing online articles, blogs and newsletters, there are growing opportunities in scriptwriting thanks to the internet. That not only includes screenwriting for TV and movies on streaming services but writing for video advertisements, podcasts, YouTube videos and other types of audio or video content.
If you have a mind for marketing, you could also become a copywriter and work on advertisements, product descriptions, integrated campaigns and other marketing materials.
According to BLS, writers and authors, including scriptwriters and copywriters, made a median salary of $69,510 in 2021 with average growth in the profession projected through 2031.*
After earning her MFA in Creative Writing at SNHU, Emily Jones '20MFA said she overcame her impostor syndrome and developed the expertise needed to move forward in her career.
"I now know exactly how to apply for a teaching job. I know exactly how to pursue freelance clients and budget and market myself," Jones said.
New Media Skills
By studying and working in new media, professionals in the field can develop strong and marketable skills that are valuable across a vast range of industries. From writing, editing and design to marketing and public relations, these skills can help you market yourself to too many types of employers to list.
“While studying new media, students will learn theoretical and tactical skills in social media, video, digital marketing, public relations and other areas of communication,” Krueger said. “We look to prepare students to be leaders in their field, which is why we focus on how to strategize and offer consultation to CEOs and C-suite members when given a seat at the table.”
As a professional in this field, you can bring value to a company or organization by applying your technical and soft skills to adapt to an ever-changing digital landscape.
“Students in this area bring know-how in the art of messaging and that intersection with technology,” Krueger said. “As a professor who also works for a large global company, I assure you these are the skills that make communicators succeed out in the field.”
Discover more about SNHU’s online communication degree: Find out what courses you'll take, skills you’ll learn and how to request information about the program.
*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.
Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter @JoeCo2323.
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