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

Yeah. I remember realizing early on that of all the content, entertainment content, sports content, news content is ideally suited to be chopped up and rearranged because we figure that out when the back end got digitized.
Harry Motro
So I felt that there’s got to be better way, a story first way, where you can actually find the story you care about and then very efficiently read the reporting, not just from the stories you trust and are familiar with, but also sources potentially you don’t trust or potentially sources that have the opposing view, or are closer to the story or are experts in the topic, right?
Krishna Bharat
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.
John Battelle

Explore more topics Vol. 1 

The Bug That Bit – Why Tech?

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I started writing about technology in Detroit because of the times. It was the moment when everything started to change.
Hiawatha Bray
I realized I was typing the name Zbigniew Brzezinski about a thousand times both because I was mentioning him so often and because I was re-typing drafts. I thought there has to be a better way to do this.
James Fallows
The very first thing I wrote about was a database program and how to use it and sent it in. Lo and behold, I got a $35 check back in the mail. The very first thing I tried to get published was published.
Brock Meeks

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