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

Unbundling and its Costs

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

Part of popularity of Twitter, for example, it’s not the way originally it was envisioned, of people updating their status to tell you what they’re doing. There’s some of that. The majority of that use now is people sharing with other people ideas that they think matter, by linking to articles or videos on topics they find interesting and think other people would find interesting.
A lot of the, as you put it, bundling of the traditional news publication or news broadcast, there was a fair amount particularly in publications where the content that was created was created as attachment points for marketing.
We spent so many fucking…so much time wrestling with what our home page looked like and who’s going to be on the home page and everything else, and yet the data was always there, all throughout my tenure, that people want what they want when and how they want it and they’re going to find it on their terms and eventually share it.

Explore more topics Vol. 1 

Social Media and Reporting

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I’m sort of more comfortable with George Orwell, who said, “Journalism is what people don’t want you to know. Everything else is PR.”.
John Markoff
It was really easy to generate sources and stuff. I think being online made me a lot more accountable because my readers were personal to me.
Brock Meeks
I feel like I’ve been inconsistent as a Twitter journalist in some way. I come in, promote my own stuff a little bit and then disappear for a little while. I don’t think that’s the way to do it. I think it’s more to be part of the conversation.
Michelle Quinn

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