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

Aggregation vs. Creation

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

Everybody keeps trying to say, “You are a content company.” They still pretty much aren’t, although YouTube is paying for some content to be created. They didn’t want to ever get into that battle where they saw Yahoo starting to pay for news. Yahoo pays seven figures to the news companies for the raw materials. They don’t do rev shares anymore.
David Graves
Yahoo! becomes a tremendous disruptor of fundamental models of journalism and news and in many way.
Mike Moritz
Was heresy. It was revolutionary. Unfortunately, it was still sort of revolutionary in the newspaper world 10 years later. That was the extraordinary thing. The extraordinary thing was not that it was revolutionary then. The extraordinary thing was that it was still revolutionary and still sort of now, even revolutionary. That newspapers insist on rehashing stories that have been better covered elsewhere, instead of taking and moving the story forward. There’s still a huge amount of duplication in the efforts of the news industry.
Nick Denton

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Business Models for News?

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I think the one thing we have here, and I think you almost need to have this these days, is the revenue is important but you’re advantaged if revenue isn’t the only thing you bring to your company here.
Steven Levy
Here’s why they’re going to hell, because we’ve had a race to the bottom because journalism needs money and because tech people need.
Deborah Branscum
If a billionaire can do this as a hobby and has an audience, maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe that is the business.
John Markoff

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. 

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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