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

What people actually go to the source for is analysis, opinion, and trustworthiness, and all other stuff. Where does that matter? Where does the quality of the prose matter, and where does the editorial’s judgment of what to cover and how to cover it matter? It’s in the other two tranches.
Krishna Bharat
Games and communicating and community. They didn’t really like the news business.
Donald Graham
Was heresy. It was revolutionary. Unfortunately, it was still sort of revolutionary in the newspaper world 10 years later. That was the extraordinary thing. The extraordinary thing was not that it was revolutionary then. The extraordinary thing was that it was still revolutionary and still sort of now, even revolutionary. That newspapers insist on rehashing stories that have been better covered elsewhere, instead of taking and moving the story forward. There’s still a huge amount of duplication in the efforts of the news industry.
Nick Denton

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Aha! Moments

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

You’re so caught up in the economics of the moment that you’re not thinking about what’s going on in the labs or how the little pieces are going to fit together.
Evelyn Richards
They had this top-secret lab, the Multimedia Lab. It was in this old mechanic’s garage that they’d converted.
Denise Caruso
I couldn’t have thought that you would be able to have 25, 50 conversations in a two-minute time period with Twitter and be able to grab things real-time like that. I didn’t see that coming at all.
Brock Meeks

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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