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

How Has Social Media Affected News?

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

We weren’t spending a lot of time thinking about our interaction with the news industry. But if you look at conversations between people as a proxy for what matters to them, if you were to just sit on top of city sidewalk and watch conversations all day long and ask, “What are people talking about?” you probably find that a lot of what they were talking about was not being reflected on the Internet ye.
Chris Cox
Facebook is run by a guy who’s 26 years old, didn’t get his degree from Harvard. I just don’t want that guy being the arbiter of what everybody reads.
Dave Winer
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

Explore more topics Vol. 1 

Audience Ties – Snail Mail to Tweets

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

Even before Twitter, even before Facebook, there were comments. If they weren’t insane comments, I would sometimes get involved with them. But you are right. I had a lot of feedback. The other is remember, I was, by then, and still am a reviewer and commentator.
Walt Mossberg
The thing was I rarely heard feedback from the folks that saw me on television. Maybe it was because they didn’t have a ready way. They didn’t put my email address up there on the chyron or anything like that.
Brock Meeks
The fact that you can send an email to everybody does not mean they can answer all of it. I reached, a couple years ago, peace with the idea that most email that I get I’m not even going to look at because I just couldn’t.
James Fallows

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. 

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