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

It showed that somebody had finally figured out a unification strategy for all these disparate ways of…Again, I’m a network oriented person. Somebody brought an agreed upon standard, so that all parties could then have access to signing on and getting something back. That there was a universal code. I thought that was transformative.
Gerald M. Levin
I think this first Internet revolution, it was media, communications, financial services. There are a lot of things that get disrupted. Healthcare and education didn’t. Partly, it’s because they’re complicated issues, where, actually, the consumer has less control than they do over the consumption of media. Things like healthcare, you can actually only have limited decisions that you can make. Ultimately, the government is the payer or your employer is the payer. It drives a lot of those decisions.
Steve Case
I can get almost any news story I want about any content type at my fingertips at any time. I think the biggest fall back is that I read shorter stories. My attention span has shrunk probably, although I’m doing a doctoral program and read all the time and in depth stuff.
Harry Motro

Explore more topics Vol. 1 

Aha! Moments

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

The ones that have really shaken my world are WikiLeaks and Anonymous and Snowden.
John Markoff
As email became interactive, as Mosaic came on too, one began to see what that would be.
James Fallows
What costs a dollar cost a nickel in four years! This is a different kind of economic phenomenon than we’ve ever seen. Journalism beat that much basic economics into me that I understood and thought there’s something that’s going to happen here.
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