An oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, 1980 to the present

A project of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy

An oral history of the epic collision between journalism and digital technology, from 1980 to the present

Did Free News Lead to the Riptide?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

doc-searls
Value wants to be paid for. I think people want to pay for value.
Doc Searls
julius-genachowski
If we move toward a world where content creators on the Internet have to pay, particularly on a discriminatory basis, to reach customers, that would be a negative for the economic model for newspapers, particularly startups.
Julius Genachowski
rob-grimshaw
The FT, had a reassessment on this, around about 2001, when the dot com bubble started bursting. At that point, we had noticed that there were some issues for us as an organization with the advertising model. The fact was we were struggling to get scale. We were coming up against the reality that we were a niche publisher, producing content that only appealed to a very narrow segment of the marketplace. That was inherent to who we were. We weren’t going to be able to escape those confines. The notion that we might compete with the portals and the general news providers in terms of volume looked like a fancy. That was the first point at which the FT really started to think about Web business models. The conclusion that came out of that process was that we should sell subscriptions.
Rob Grimshaw

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Challenges –A Quick Transformation

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

Hedshot Caruso
I think Steve Jobs is looking up or down or whatever from wherever he is and laughing his ass off. Because he ruined everything. People are face-first in their screens all the time playing Angry Birds. We have just become so ridiculous.
Denise Caruso
Hedshot Schlender
I’ve talked to Bill Gates about this. What’s going to happen when Moore’s Law flames out and we really do hit the smallest feature size possible and the escalator just stops? He says, “I don’t like to think about that.”.
Brent Schlender
Hedshot Richards
No job has been untouched and so now it’s an entirely different thing covering tech because you’re covering everything.
Evelyn Richards

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The Big Picture

For most of the 20th century, any list of America’s wealthiest families would include quite a few publishers generally considered to be in the “news business”: the Hearsts, the Pulitzers, the Sulzbergers, the Grahams, the Chandlers, the Coxes, the Knights, the Ridders, the Luces, the Bancrofts — a tribute to the fabulous business model that once delivered the country its news. While many of those families remain wealthy today, their historic core businesses are in steep decline (or worse), and their position at the top of the wealth builders has long since been eclipsed by people with other names: Gates, Page and Brin and Schmidt, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Case, and Jobs — builders of digital platforms that, while not specifically targeted at the “news business,” have nonetheless severely disrupted it.

Keep reading Vol 1. 

The Tech Journalists

A transformative wave washed over the world economy this past quarter-century and technology journalists were its chroniclers and front-row witnesses. Many, among the twenty interviewed, say a catastrophic disruption of the news business was to be expected. But they feel their warnings went largely unheard within their workplaces, a contributing factor to the industry’s late and ineffectual counter-efforts. In contrast to pessimism about the future financial underpinnings of their business, they’re optimistic about the outlook for journalism as new tools, audiences and approaches emerge and evolve.

Keep reading Vol 2. 

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Volume
Vol 1: CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters
Vol 2: Tech Journalists
ken-richieri
doc-searls
walter-isaacson
Update Branscum Hedshot
michael-sippey
Hedshot Richards
gordon-crovitz
jonah-peretti
Hedshot Fallows
hedshot Elmer-Dewitt
rob-grimshaw
Hedshot Swisher
chloe-sladden
mike-moritz
dave-winer
Hedshot Bray
martin-nisenholtz
nick-denton
henry-blodget
Hedshot Quittner
Update Bell Headshot
Hedshot Markoff
steve-newhouse
will-hearst
8255KR01
Hedshot Schlender
clay-christensen
tim-berners-lee
Hedshot Gillmor
POLITICO Executive Editor Jim VandeHei. John Shinkle/Politico
Hedshot Pogue
Justin Smith
harry-motro
andrew-sullivan
david-bradley
arianna-huffington
chris-cox
gerald-levin
steve-case
Hedshot Levy
marty-baron
david-graves
Mike-Perlis1
krishna-bharat
Hedshot Caruso
alan-spoon
Will India Meet Global Expectations?:
michael-kinsley
scott-woelfel
Hedshot Dyson
ted-leonsis
interview_still
chris-schroeder
roger-fidler
P1260656
Hedshot Dvorak
merrill-brown
betsy-morgan
scott-kurnit
om-malik
julius-genachowski
richard-gingras
Hedshot Michelle Quinn
john-battelle
john-harris
dick-costolo
lewis-dvorkin
hedshot Meeks
eric-schmidt
Hedshot Mossberg
Larry Kramer
caroline-little
matt-mullenweg
arthur-sulzberger
nick-negroponte
art-kern
jeff-jarvis
Hedshot Angwin
tim-armstrong
bob-november
donald-graham

Four veterans of digital journalism and media — John Huey, Martin Nisenholtz, Paul Sagan, and later John Geddes — interviewed dozens of people who played important roles in the intersection of media and technology — from CEOs to coders, journalists to disruptors.

Riptide is the result: more than 50 hours of video interviews and two narrative essays that trace the evolution of digital news from early experiments to today. It’s what really happened to the news business.

Read Vol. 1  
See interviews