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

Impact of Mobility on News Business

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

People used to laugh at us 5, 10, 15 years ago when we said if you have valuable content, you own valuable content, you should charge for i.
Martin Sorrell
The print circulation started going down at that point. If you look at the graph, if you look at when Google started, there was no change in the trajectory. When Google News started, no change in the trajectory.
Krishna Bharat
And then that changed, and online for the Wall Street Journal there was still that sense of this is what’s really important. This is of less importance. And, of course, as technology allowed…somebody recently used the phrase, “the nuggetization of content.”.
Gordon Crovitz

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Predicting the Disruption of News

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

The head of R&D for Knight-Ridder, a woman named Jenny Fielder, was there. Grabbed me after this and said “We’ve got to talk.” This is ’93, I believe, keep in mind. She said “Ok, two questions. How big an opportunity and how big a threat?”.
Dan Gillmor
We watched it, everybody saw it happening and the people who were covering it would go to their bosses and say, “We’re screwed. We’re not doing this correctly.”.
Josh Quittner
I think I felt a little bit like Jeremiah or Saint John the Baptist….
Kara Swisher

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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