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 Biz -- Entrepreneurs vs Traditionalists

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

The fact that you could pull the data, see what the world was thinking or saying, we did this around Obama’s acceptance speech. Just said, “Well, maybe there will be 50 tweets.” There were thousands of tweets giving us this totally different point of view on how the US was reacting to that acceptance speech. It was such an experimental space.
Chloe Sladden
It’s a much different mindset. The way that established media responds to disruption, threats, innovation, is far different than how a startup, innovative organization responds to all those things.
Betsy Morgan
Steve Newhouse is very much unsung as a visionary in news online. The thing that Steve taught me, more than anything else, that perhaps corrupted me as I went on, was the importance of community, the importance of providing the opportunity for the community to speak.
Jeff Jarvis

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Challenges –A Quick Transformation

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

Everybody’s life is touched by how well or poorly the large tech companies are doing, so it’s become completely pervasive.
Evelyn Richards
I think [Silicon Valley] has changed enormously……I think that “value” change became much more money.
Michelle Quinn
The big companies like Apple, Google and now Facebook, they’re the companies that I spend a lot of time with because they’re not only important from an economic sense or a technology sense, but a cultural sense.
Steven Levy

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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. 

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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