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

Blogging -- a Key Transition?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

I realized I could put my own ideas out there. When I did that, it was explosive. It was just wonderful to see what kind of response came back.
Dave Winer
It was all totally noncommercial, totally…Because it felt like there was these interesting things you could build on the Web at that time.
Jonah Peretti
One of the reasons took off, I think, was because there was nothing else going on at the time. They were all carpetbaggers, had been washed out of the market. There was no Internet advertising. The initial business model, to the extent that there was one, was that, “Maybe we can make some money off of fees.” That was the extent of it. Or otherwise, “I’ll just fund it for as long as it takes.” It took off. When something takes off like that, you should just plunge straight in. I wouldn’t say I plunged straight in. In retrospect, I should have gone more aggressive sooner.
Nick Denton

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The Future of Journalism

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I have, for a long time, bought the idea that much of what has been journalism will be automated.
John Markoff
I didn’t see the bus coming and I don’t know what the salvation will be, but people have been doing this stuff for a really long time. It’s not going to stop.
Deborah Branscum
The job might be a little different and the approach might be more demanding, but they’re journalists. This field isn’t dead.
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. 

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Began Covering Tech
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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