The Trends in the Children’s Media Industry panel was led by David Kleeman, Senior Vice President of Global Trends at DUBIT International. Kleeman moderated a conversation between:
- Ed Greene, Vice President for Children, Youth, and Digital Media Literacy Initiatives at the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network
- Meredith Halpern-Ranzer, Chief Executive Tinkerer at TINKERCAST
- Linda Simensky, Vice President of Children’s Programming for PBS
- Michael Fragale, Vice President of Education and Children’s Content at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
A prominent theme of the panel was the increase in children's ability to participate as creators. Children receive mobile phones and other devices at younger and younger ages, and they know how to use these devices to create videos and music.
Despite this increase in participation, representation is still an issue in much of the mainstream media and thus the panel agreed increasing representation of different races, genders, cultures, abilities, and perspectives is crucial.
Another student asked, how are content creators trying to get parents and children to co-engage with their media?
Kleeman argued that today technology is facilitating richer, multi-dimensional experiences -- the Pokemon Go craze, for example, he said brought families together.
Because our media diets are scattered over so many devices, Fragale emphasized that creators need to be thinking about how their work fits into someone’s day, making sure it’s accessible to audiences in many contexts.
“We have to be available to the consumer whenever and wherever they want,” he said.
To start the panel, Culver had each of the guests explain how they got their jobs so attendees could understand the many pathways into the industry. Cassel studied media and psychology and always knew she wanted to marry her two passions. She thought children’s media would do the trick and used the Children’s Media Association job board to look for career opportunities. She landed a spot working on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, where she’s been ever since. Now she manages the CMA job board and recommended each student in attendance give it a look.
Baily got his start interning at Nickelodeon, while both Wong and Mays-Green began their careers interning at Sesame Workshop. Each panelist stressed the importance of not only completing an internship before graduating, but also requesting informational interviews from others in the business along the way; interviews that focus on learning about different jobs, not on getting hired.
During the question-and-answer period, a handful of attendees were curious about how to break into the industry without a degree in education or psychology or with only a seemingly unrelated job on their resume. Each time the panelists’ advice remained the same: don’t count yourself out!
That customer service job you’ve held for six years? “That shows commitment, real world experience, and great interpersonal skills. The fact that you have a relationship and you’ve sustained that relationship for an extended period of time says something about you. It says something about your ability to connect with people, to commit,” Mays-Green said.
With that said, specifically for children’s media, experience working with children is a huge plus – even if that just means babysitting. “It shows you have experience with kids and people are willing to trust with their kids,” Wong said.
The panelists were not shy about what candidates shouldn’t do on a resume, either. Absolute no’s include spelling errors, generic cover letters, and inflating a role to sound more prestigious than it is. As Mays-Green noted, you only get one chance to make a first impression.