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 people who were running the news organizations became victims pretty quickly because they weren’t as general and as expandable. Yeah, you’re right, they were not run by engineering people, but had they been I’m not so sure it would have been different. I don’t think back to any one decision where I said, Wow, if Time Inc. or someone had only done this or only done what I said or only listened to someone then it would all be different.” There really is this other thing happening that you’re not part of. It’s trains and airplanes and something else was going on and this other thing was happening anyway.
Nicholas Negroponte
You couldn’t attract the caliber of engineers, even if you were wiling to.
Chris Schroeder
When I started “Entertainment Weekly Magazine,” at Time Inc., back in ’90, we were seen as entrepreneurial because they moved us half a block away. That was the sum and total of the entrepreneurial spirit of the place, that we weren’t in the building.
Jeff Jarvis

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Career Entry Points

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

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
Somewhere around, I would say, the end of the anti-war movement, I picked my head up and realized everyone else had left.
John Markoff
The journalism happened because one evening I was sitting in a bar in Burlington, Vermont, where I lived, having a couple of beers with an editor of the local weekly newspaper which had covered my music a number of times.
Dan Gillmor

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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
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