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

How Did Tech Platforms Affect News?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

Along comes Twitter, and it’s got all the benefits of broadcast distribution. It’s got immediacy. The information is transmitted around the world in absolutely real time. It’s got obviously the breadth of geographic distribution but all the benefits of the agora.
Dick Costolo
The notion, really, with Google TV was, “How could we enable the full flowering of IP for video, and in a sense, to some extent, bypass the control points of the cable guys?
Richard Gingras
These folks that come on board now, our kids’ age, in their twenties, they speak technology.
Lewis DVorkin

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Challenges – Wealth Creation Up Close

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I’m doing what I want to do, just as those other people are lucky enough to do what they want to do and be richer than me.
Steven Levy
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
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

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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
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