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

What was new about Facebook, was your relationship with the next 200 people, who you didn’t call on the phone, and you didn’t have coffee with, and you weren’t writing emails to all the time.
Chris Cox
You’re on the board of Facebook and Jonah’s business is built, in large part, on the social distribution of news and information.
Donald Graham
You can almost look across any device, any network, any handset content is starting to get mentioned. I believe we’re at the beginning of a content revolution in 2013, which will probably last, again, multi decade. The most important contents brands and content properties are going to be the most important things to consumers.
Tim Armstrong

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Career Entry Points

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

The journalism happened because one evening I was sitting in a bar in Burlington, Vermont, where I lived, having a couple of beers with an editor of the local weekly newspaper which had covered my music a number of times.
Dan Gillmor
I thought I could go to New York or California. They seem to be the only two places to go if you were a writer and I picked California because it’s further from my family and also I thought I wouldn’t need as much money there.
Michelle Quinn
“You do not want to be a professor. Don’t be a professor. This is talk about a dead-end career.”.
Brent Schlender

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