By Ally Bolender
SAN MARCOS, TX – Texas State University’s Mass Comm Week welcomed the chief technology officer (CTO) of Vox Media on Wednesday.
Pablo Mercado graduated from Southwest Texas University with a degree in English. Mercado wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he graduated, but he knew he wanted to get involved in technology during the dot-com boom. What started as an interest in programming led Mercado to help create, and ultimately become CTO of, Vox Media.
After setting goals to teach himself coding and digital skills, Mercado started to get into the digital media field. He was eager to learn about programming and advanced his knowledge with each job he had. Mercado then joined a team of five that worked in a basement to create a technology platform. That basement start-up grew to be Vox Media.
As a CTO, Mercado’s job is to build the technology that supports the media organization. He makes decisions about how content will be displayed and produced to reach viewers in the most effective way.
During the panel, Mercado provided students with insight into the ever-changing digital media industry. As CTO, Mercado has to make decisions when it comes to providing content to users on many different platforms. There are always new ways to reach people– Mercado’s job is to decide how to continuously reach an audience with technology.
Mercado also gave advice to students looking into a career in digital media and the qualities that good candidates possess. The CTO expressed that the main quality he looks for in a candidate is a broad experience with digital media. Mercado stressed that candidates with practice in journalism, coding and story-telling have a good range of tools to use in the digital media world.
“It’s not useful to just focus on the technology side… you can’t make the right technology platform without understanding what goes into having a successful media program. You really need to understand the full spectrum,” said Mercado. “That’s why I think this program that you’re in currently is very important.”
Katharine Robertson, a digital media innovation major at Texas State, felt that Mercado’s panel gave her a better understanding of what it means to work in the field of digital media.
“My biggest takeaway from thisis that the world of media is changing and that we need to be quick to evolve, but also that we need to learn to be a jack-of-all-trades and have your hand in every single pot to make sure that you are valuable to the industry,” said Robertson.
Jordon Brown, an adjunct lecturer at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, encouraged his students to attend Mercado’s panel at Mass Comm Week.
“It’s really important to see that there are careers out there that can be built on the skills that [students] are learning right now… I think someone who is really successful like Pablo is a great example of what you can do with the skills,” said Brown.
Visit the Mass Comm Week website for more information about speakers and a full schedule.