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

Unbundling and its Costs

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

Will the world continue to be bundled in the television space in cable or will it be unbundled? We’ve been able to play in both spaces and let the marketplace determine what’s going to happen.
Steve Newhouse is very much unsung as a visionary in news online. The thing that Steve taught me, more than anything else, that perhaps corrupted me as I went on, was the importance of community, the importance of providing the opportunity for the community to speak.
The consumption of news, the gathering of news, and the packaging of news, there’s a lot of leverage there. Unlike television and print, both of those are limited by either space or time. TV, there are only 24 hours in a day. That’s all you can pack into a network no matter what.

Explore more topics Vol. 1 

Challenges – Wealth Creation Up Close

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

[There were] eight to ten people. That was the entire New York tech crowd. Now I swear there are 100 people writing just about Apple.
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
I think of that in that context of it’s a second Gilded Age. The strains are very similar to what they were in the late 1800s, early 1900s.
James Fallows
The wealth is very seductive, although nobody was being paid off as far as I know.
Deborah Branscum

Explore more topics Vol. 2 

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. 

Browse Interviews
Huffington Post
New York Times
San Jose Mercury News
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post
East Coast
West Coast
Began Covering Tech
Before 1990 (inclusive)
After 1990
News Industry – Biz Side or Edit
Vol 1: CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters
Vol 2: Tech Journalists

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