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

Too Few Engineers in Sr Leadership?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

The “mission statement,” if you want to call it that, was that the inventors and creative users of new media should be in one place. The example of where that didn’t happen was in television. Engineers invented it and then threw it over the fence, and people used it.
Nicholas Negroponte
You could probably have let 100,000 of yesterday’s media employees through the door without spotting one software engineer.
Mike Moritz
I think, as AOL grew, particularly as it got to the point where it was approaching 10,000 employees and 5 billion or so of revenue, which is about what happened when we did the merger, it was already starting shift to be a little bit less of the attacker and a little bit more of a defender.
Steve Case

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Challenges – Sourcing in a Small Town

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

If you are a really good reporter, you make the calls — you call, you call, you call. You develop relationships, you ask questions, you can screw with just about anybody. I don’t mean screw with them. They can’t put one over on you, if you really apply yourself.
Kara Swisher
Man, today, there are just so many avenues that I don’t know how some of these companies keep secrets, because there’s so many ways. Not just ways here in America but people are going overseas.
Brock Meeks
Didn’t want to miss the story, but you knew you were playing a part in an ecosystem that was about money and everything else.
John Markoff

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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. 

Browse Interviews
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Industry
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Technology
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AOL
Atlantic
Forbes
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Huffington Post
Infoworld
MIT
New York Times
San Jose Mercury News
Time
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post
Wired
Business
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Magazines
Newspapers
Online
Platform
Locale
East Coast
West Coast
Other
Gender
Female
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Began Covering Tech
Before 1990 (inclusive)
After 1990
News Industry – Biz Side or Edit
Business
Journalism
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