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

Repurposed Content a Wrong Turn?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

One of the things I always loved about the idea of the Internet, and it’s now obviously true today, is that everybody could be a publisher.
Steve Case
Most of the existing media companies who don’t have their own content will go the way of the dodo. No doubt about that.
Mike Moritz
I have to give a lot of credit to Steve Newhouse and his understanding of this world. It also helped that we had a magazine company next to the newspaper company. As I know, having worked at “Time Inc.,” the economics of magazines and subscription involve a high level of marketing, subscriber acquisition cost.
Jeff Jarvis

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News Industry's Reaction Speed

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

Why would you want a week-old [magazine]? People just don’t want it. People don’t want to wear scabbards anymore. We’re not fighting that way anymore.
Kara Swisher
Journalists can and have, over history, in many different settings been close to wealth and written objectively and fairly. I would say that I really view the tech issue differently, which is, there, it’s a structural problem. Right now, the current structural problem is you have companies that are funded by the industry they cover.
Julia Angwin
No one wanted to hear what technology reporters had to say. No one.
Steven Levy

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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. 

Browse Interviews
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Industry
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Technology
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AOL
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Forbes
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Huffington Post
Infoworld
MIT
New York Times
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Time
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Washington Post
Wired
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Magazines
Newspapers
Online
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Locale
East Coast
West Coast
Other
Gender
Female
Male
Began Covering Tech
Before 1990 (inclusive)
After 1990
News Industry – Biz Side or Edit
Business
Journalism
Volume
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