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

Tech & News -- Too Late an Embrace

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

We are awash in news gathering capacity. What the Internet’s going to do, it’s going to make it more efficient. The digital model’s going to be different. But TV’s not going away, print is not going away.
Henry Blodget
The print circulation started going down at that point. If you look at the graph, if you look at when Google started, there was no change in the trajectory. When Google News started, no change in the trajectory.
Krishna Bharat
A lot of us didn’t talk about it necessarily a lot of the time did studies particularly of audiences under 35 who would say at a mass number, not a plurality but a majority who would say, “I wouldn’t take a subscription to a newspaper if you delivered it to me for free.” Now I don’t know what kind of Pearl Harbor needs to get hit for one to say the game is really now, it’s not going to be 10 years from now, 20 years from now, that we can manage to, but it’s here before us, by which you have to make some experiments.
Chris Schroeder

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Covering Tech Today

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

It’s a pretty robust ecosystem. I’m concerned that there aren’t enough players who are funded other ways, who aren’t reliant on the same people they write about [for] their funding.
Julia Angwin
They’ve been gathered up by the venture capitalists from their reporting and their blogging and the writing. Those guys, it’s not quite journalism, but in some ways it’s better than journalism, you know?
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
We’re supposed to tell people either how we got here or where it’s likely that we’re going. This point is either an endpoint or a beginning point.
Brent Schlender

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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