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

Blogging -- a Key Transition?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

I found a Gawker banner and thought, “That seems high end.” I put that on Gawker.com. They never complained about it, probably never even noticed. Paul: There is actually, I think, legal precedent in the newspaper business, decades before, where somebody did that. I think an upstart Chicago paper took Marshall Fields or something. They got sued and actually it was upheld. Very strange.
Nick Denton
It was all totally noncommercial, totally…Because it felt like there was these interesting things you could build on the Web at that time.
Jonah Peretti
None of the engineers who worked for the Transportation Authority are blogging that “Hey, guess what? We haven’t been maintaining those tracks.”.
Marty Baron

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Career Entry Points

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

I got into journalism to get away from tech and obviously I was unsuccessful.
Julia Angwin
I was actually a writer in high school. In fact, I think I was first published as a poet in the fourth grade, but that’s another story.
John Dvorak
“You do not want to be a professor. Don’t be a professor. This is talk about a dead-end career.”.
Brent Schlender

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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