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

Aggregation vs. Creation

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

Defend the model. Let’s say I’m the New York Times and I write a story, and you run a large chunk of it.
The reporter was like, “Isn’t this unfair? Think how much The New Yorker spent on that.” But when you think of what a consumer wants.
Could you create a website that was built around just being really interesting, breaking news, driving a conversation, day to day? Could you build a business model around that?

Explore more topics Vol. 1 

Social Media and Reporting

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I feel like I’ve been inconsistent as a Twitter journalist in some way. I come in, promote my own stuff a little bit and then disappear for a little while. I don’t think that’s the way to do it. I think it’s more to be part of the conversation.
Michelle Quinn
The fact that you can send an email to everybody does not mean they can answer all of it. I reached, a couple years ago, peace with the idea that most email that I get I’m not even going to look at because I just couldn’t.
James Fallows
What’s really changed isn’t so much the medium of whether it’s email or written letter or a postcard or a text or what. What’s changed is that the people who write to you are playing to the audience, too.
Brent Schlender

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