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

Google's Impact on the News Business

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

Google today is pretty much the same as it has been since I’ve been here.
We essentially came up with a new strategy chart, which showed on one side of it. We would basically have all the advertisers. In the middle, we’d have a Google system, and on the other side, we would actually be agnostic towards what type of ads and what type of revenue we took. Shooting to web…We launched the Google TV business, the radio business.
The people who were running the news organizations became victims pretty quickly because they weren’t as general and as expandable. Yeah, you’re right, they were not run by engineering people, but had they been I’m not so sure it would have been different. I don’t think back to any one decision where I said, Wow, if Time Inc. or someone had only done this or only done what I said or only listened to someone then it would all be different.” There really is this other thing happening that you’re not part of. It’s trains and airplanes and something else was going on and this other thing was happening anyway.

Explore more topics Vol. 1 

Audience Ties – Snail Mail to Tweets

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I’ve always said this — the reader is smart enough to know if somebody’s just blowing smoke up their ass. The reader is smart enough to know and he’ll just disregard them. Let your reporter have an opinion.
Brock Meeks
People identify, I think, too much with their gadgets. Maybe it’s because you invest a lot in it. You don’t want to be made a fool. Maybe it’s because they’re fashion statements now — the phone you carry, the tablet you carry.
David Pogue
Some time ago, we realized the readers need to be skeptical about advertising. Now, first they need to be skeptical about whether what they’re reading is advertising. They also need to be skeptical about where the stuff they’re reading comes from.
Esther Dyson

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