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

What is the Future of Quality Journalism?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

Ted: It’s this next generation of digital producer, digital packager, who will save newspapers if they can be saved. It might be that newspapers end up becoming charitable enterprises, that they’re businesses with a double bottom line endeavor, and people of wealth, instead of building another wing at a hospital, will buy and save the local newspaper, because we do need journalism. We do need that critical third eye. We’re living in this more transparent society.
Ted Leonsis
I think a lot of people in the media should take great consolation in the fact that record sales for the very first time were up last year.
Mike Moritz
The advertisers who want to reach that niche are willing to pay a higher rate to reach them.
Marty Baron

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Career Entry Points

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

Then when I got to Harvard at the age of 16, I was the very last girl who was accepted onto the Crimson because she was cute.
Esther Dyson
I had written obits and wedding notices, of course, but I had also written real stories, a few business stories. I had one or two scoops that put me on the front page. I knew how to write a story and I knew how to develop sources. I knew how to do all that stuff when I was a kid.
Walt Mossberg
Somewhere around, I would say, the end of the anti-war movement, I picked my head up and realized everyone else had left.
John Markoff

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. 

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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