Michael Mulford is in the business of media

“There is opportunity out there for the business side of production and programming in general. I didn’t have any of that business knowledge,” says Michael Mulford, a graduate student in the Newhouse School’s new media management program. Mulford is no stranger to Newhouse, graduating with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism in 2019.

Michael Mulford

When looking for schools, the Morris County, New Jersey native did his homework regarding the best journalism programs in the country. “I didn’t go the sports-focused route but I knew becoming a great writer would put me in a good position,” he says.

After graduating, Mulford secured a job with CBS, spending eight months in the entertainment division. He then worked with Emmy Award-winning broadcast “CBS Mornings” for two years, helping produce the documentary special “Watergate at 50: The political scandal that changed Washington” for Paramount Plus from February to June 2022.

But Mulford realized there was something missing, and knew there was more he could take advantage of for his future career. He returned to Newhouse at age 26, enrolling in the new media management program. “Everything you go into is a business in itself, journalism included,” he says. “I figured taking some business and analytics courses would help me springboard my career.”

New media management is a one-year program for students interested in the business side of media. The program teaches students how to manage media organizations and platforms by giving them business, technology and media skills in a hands-on environment.

Associate professor Adam Peruta is in his second year as the program’s director. “Our goal is to put students at the intersection of business and media technologies,” he says. “Media companies have greater problems in management than other companies.”

The program “doesn’t get the recognition that [Newhouse] programs like BDJ and TRF get, but I think there’s a lot of room for growth,” Mulford says. “I’m hoping to see the number of participants grow in the coming years, because I’d like to look back and say I was part of that.”

Before applying, he took the initiative to reach out to Peruta and express his interest in the program. “[Michael] had more to learn if he wanted to level up,” Peruta says. “He came back here to learn more about the media industry in general.” The program’s faculty work with students to set career goals and then pick the best electives to fit those goals.

Michael Mulford plays a video game at the CES tech event in Las Vegas.

The program’s hands-on environment emerges through its experiential learning. The first week of every January, Peruta takes his students to Las Vegas for CES, the “most influential tech event in the world.” This year, Mulford was one of four CES fellows in attendance, working with with Newhouse Advanced Media Professor in Residence Shelly Palmer to research the tech and media, identify trends to craft custom tours and provide insights for media managers in attendance.

Mulford was humbled and honored to be chosen as a fellow. “It was great to learn how so many companies are actually working together now instead of solo to bring the next best thing to market,” he says. “Personally, it definitely changed how I see the future of media, tech and sports.”

L-R: Advanced Media Professor in Residence Shelly Palmer talks to CES fellows Christina Lake, Michael Mulford, Xiyu Zhang and Daniel Snyder at CES in Las Vegas.

His ambitions are executive-level; he’s interested in business, analytics, green-lighting shows and movies and approving their funding. His immediate goal after finishing the program is to be an analyst for a sports league or a content strategist on a streaming platform. “Personally, I think there’s too many options for streaming platforms,” he says. “Hoping to figure that out.”

Mulford’s prior experience, as well as his dedicated and disciplined personality, will work to his advantage, as “the grad students that are more successful are the ones that have gone out for a couple years and worked and come back with a better baseline for setting up specific goals,” Peruta says. “Michael has taken advantage of every opportunity that has been given to him here at Newhouse.”

With one semester left in his year, Mulford is eager to launch his career armed with the education provided to him by new media management. “The skills that I leave here with are going to be pretty unique because a lot of these platforms and programs are so new,” he says. “I’m excited that I’m going to be 26, leaving here with two degrees both from this place. I’ll have a skill set that is pretty rare between my writing and production background and also my newfound business and management skills. That’ll be a nice pairing.”

Nico Horning is a first-year student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.