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

Is there Biz Model for Local News?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

There’s all this out there and it exists in Baltimore and it exists in Philadelphia and it exists in metropolitan New York.
Merrill Brown
The metro newspapers never really competed with each other. Sorry, there were companies that did compete with each other in certain markets, and that was always a hang up.
Donald Graham
Local journalism, covering the mayor’s office, the governor, state, city, local agencies, that’s where we’ve seen the greatest cutbacks and the hardest economic challenges, as compared to national news.
Julius Genachowski

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The Bug That Bit – Why Tech?

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

He [Secretary of State James Baker] said, “Are you going to the White House, Congress?” I said, “No, I’m going to write a column about technology and computers.” His exact words were, “What the fuck do you want to do that for?”.
Walt Mossberg
There was a little team of people, who began covering this industry just as it started. I walked in right at the right time.
John Markoff
And I had this one skill that I understood computers, you know, if only vaguely but more than most people in most newsrooms.
Julia Angwin

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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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Began Covering Tech
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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