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

I said, “How many people will be on the Internet in the year 2000?” The numbers were numbers like 30 million, 40 million. One person, I forget who it was, reached to 100 million and I said I think it’ll be a billion. People said, “You’re joking.
Nicholas Negroponte
There are things that we can actually do with that that you can’t do in either print or TV, such as create wonderful photojournalism essays that really describe what’s going on. Couldn’t do that before.
Henry Blodget
I thought that the style of print, and not anticipating iPads and other things, but would always have its place. But this is now an additional way of having the consumer get direct access to news feeds and make judgments, but there’ll always be a need for editorial discussion and analysis on top of that.
Gerald M. Levin

Explore more topics Vol. 1 

Audience Ties – Snail Mail to Tweets

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I’ve always said this — the reader is smart enough to know if somebody’s just blowing smoke up their ass. The reader is smart enough to know and he’ll just disregard them. Let your reporter have an opinion.
Brock Meeks
I like the way it was best probably in the ’90s when things were still, in journalism I’m talking about now, where we were still feeling our way into what this was going to be and what it’s going to be like.
Brent Schlender
I can’t bring myself to think it’s a bad thing. I’m sorry. It’s a threat to my livelihood but is it overall a good thing for society? I would say yeah. Yeah, pretty much for the most part.
Hiawatha Bray

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. 

Browse Interviews
Huffington Post
New York Times
San Jose Mercury News
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post
East Coast
West Coast
Began Covering Tech
Before 1990 (inclusive)
After 1990
News Industry – Biz Side or Edit
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