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

Aggregation vs. Creation

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

POLITICO Executive Editor Jim VandeHei. John Shinkle/Politico
Could you create a website that was built around just being really interesting, breaking news, driving a conversation, day to day? Could you build a business model around that?
Jim VandeHei
Larry Kramer
Anybody can put up a website. Anybody can do a tweet. The beauty of Twitter is still it’s a selective process. You as Twitter can’t go to me unless I say it’s OK. You can’t use Twitter to get to me. But if I want you to, I can take you and I can eliminate everybody else.
Larry Kramer
walter-isaacson
That journalism was not just going to be the elite guardians of journalism handing down on pages the reporting of our tim.
Walter Isaacson

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Social Media and Reporting

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

Hedshot Schlender
What’s really changed isn’t so much the medium of whether it’s email or written letter or a postcard or a text or what. What’s changed is that the people who write to you are playing to the audience, too.
Brent Schlender
Hedshot Angwin
It used to be you would get a letter every once in a while from a reader. I always meant to write back, but maybe I didn’t always write. Now, I get tips. It’s like a conversation.
Julia Angwin
Hedshot Michelle Quinn
I’ve had a view of it as stepping into the [social media] stream and stepping out of it, sort of managing myself a bit through it.
Michelle Quinn

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

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.

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