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

What is the Future of Quality Journalism?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

People are desperate for it. People are fed up with spam.
I said, “How many people will be on the Internet in the year 2000?” The numbers were numbers like 30 million, 40 million. One person, I forget who it was, reached to 100 million and I said I think it’ll be a billion. People said, “You’re joking.
I can get almost any news story I want about any content type at my fingertips at any time. I think the biggest fall back is that I read shorter stories. My attention span has shrunk probably, although I’m doing a doctoral program and read all the time and in depth stuff.

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Tech Journalism's Evolution

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

In the ’80s, if you were at a party and you told people that you wrote about technology for a living, it was like you dropped a stink bomb in the room. They cleared out. Nobody knew what you were talking about. They didn’t want to know what you were talking about. Like, “Oh, look at the time!” So we talked to each other.
Denise Caruso
It’s just that I really didn’t like to be told by a New York editor what was happening in Silicon Valley. “Here’s what the real story is.” I was like, “No, no, no. I was just with these people. This is the real story”.
Kara Swisher
I said, “What am I going to cover?” They said, “Oh, the Internet.” I was, like, “Any particular part?” “No. Anything. It’s all…we need as many bodies on this beat as possible.”.
Julia Angwin

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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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