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

News Media & The Innovator's Dilemma

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

If you look at what’s happening to the newspapers, Craigslist picks off a job to be done. “The Metro” picks off a job to be done. picks up, and every one of them is focused on a single job to be done, and they do it well. The newspaper is trying to do everything for everybody and they can’t complete.
It was trying to get the top people in the company, like the top corporate people, the top 15 or so, to really understand the mindset of how people in Silicon Valley look at thing.
One lesson we learned, a fair amount of time in, was that your brand and your URL had to be the same. It was re branded again, to, simply. They’ve stuck with that.

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Career Entry Points

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

My main interest originally is I wanted to be a rock critic where I’d write about music. I was interested in sports and other kinds of stuff.
Steven Levy
My first jobs were in agriculture, which was great, then with a magazine that was no longer around, Big Farm Weekly. Not pig farms, big farms.
Emily Bell
I was active in the anti-war movement and we were doing a kind of journalism…where I fit into the political movement was doing a kind of journalism that was called “power structure research.”.
John Markoff

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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. 

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