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

The Riptide blog

Who we interviewed

We started by identifying the institutions that we believed were central to the Riptide story — the change of news through the rise of digital technology, beginning around 1980. Then we sought to interview many of the key people at those institutions. At that time, they were, regrettably, overwhelmingly white and male.

Riptide was always intended to be an organic project that would be expanded over time with other voices exploring more and more parts of this story. That’s why we created it as a website. We welcome suggestions for voices or topics that could now be added to Riptide. Please feel free to post them below or send them to us here.

  • Erie

    I think you should ask each one of your interviewees who their #one4one would be.

    #One4One “…Asks digital influencers to name someone whose identity has a radically different trait as their One. If you’re a dude, name a woman. If you’re white, name a person of color. If you’re straight, name an LGBTQ person. You get the picture.”


    Each one of the people who was interviewed knows someone they’ve worked for or followed that is just as influential as them, but doesn’t look exactly like them. Then you’d immediately have 61 important, diverse, missing voices represented.

  • rachelsklar

    What’s regrettable is that instead of acknowledging a gap in your coverage you are claiming that you were just waiting for the right moment to be inclusive. C’mon.

    This says it all: “That’s a 100 percent white male group using 90 percent white male perspective on the changes in journalism field and calling it a defining narrative.”

    This – the pushback on the #Riptide hashtag, the outrage from people who track this sort of historical white-washing for a living, the disbelief from people who know that seismic change takes more than a homogenous group of insiders – this is part of that epic collision. I look forward to seeing what you’ve learned from your own work in how you choose to acknowledge that.

  • Before I get to my critique, congratulations on finishing such a huge project. And thanks for opening it up to online discussion.

    While it’s true that white men did — and still do — dominate the top ranks of most media companies, it’s utterly inaccurate to imply that they were the only ones with notable, disruptive roles. USA Today,,, the Post and the San Jose Mercury News were all either led by women or benefited greatly from the contributions of female editors or developers.

    That you failed to see these women — and their work — as “key” is exactly the problem.

    • Totally agreed with that last bit. Where is Tina Brown and a million other women I can think of as being instrumental to media evolution?

  • So, 5 women, 55 men, no one younger than 30 and racially homogenous and you’re asking the world what “really happened” to the news business?

    THIS is exactly what happened to the news business.

    A media-driven reality has been created to set the agenda that society should focus on demonizing and marginalizing large groups of people by oppressing their right to be represented in YOUR world. This is hatred. This is not progress. This appropriate hashtag has and will stir up a conversation to finally welcome other voices, if only to hear yours harken back to defend the examples of “good work” that has come out of these patriarchal media institutions.

    Excuse me if this sounds outrageous, but as a 24-year-old biracial woman, I grew up with a single-mother that knew no one. I had no connections and nothing but support to follow my heart to the finish line. I came to media because I thought it was the industry to be in if I wanted to tell honest stories, but that notion was dead on arrival.

    Henry Blodget writes: “How is the world going to police itself? That’s one. The other is what’s actually happening: The amount of news that’s being created has been increased by a hundredfold over the last five years. People are absolutely drowning in it. That’s the one I subscribe to.”

    The thing is, the news being verified never was an issue. When people badmouthed reporters for doing their jobs, that was NEWS — that was private information being brought to light for the benefit of the community, but what most news sources do now is recycle topical information to tell people WHAT to think about, not how to think. The latter ability to make informed opinions and decisions dies with the very timely news cycle because the neutral point of view most news sources take don’t allow for meditation and conversation — as soon as something gets real, something else gets famous and that’s more important.

    Allowing people to tell us what’s important needs to stop. I don’t want someone telling me what regions of the world to focus my energy on or what issues to rally behind with a hashtag. We don’t need permission to discuss taboo topics. We don’t need publishers to validate our ideas.

    We just need the courage to let our voices ring out. It’s time to tell our stories. #Riptide

  • I’m working my way through the body of interviews on Riptide. I’m thinking that what’s missing is the untold story of all the people who are not transplants from the legacy media, those who don’t have celebrity status online, but nonetheless are collectively responsible for the fragmentation phenomenon that has eradicated the power of mass-media.

  • Really just leaving a big hole where #LostRiptide will, inevitably, go: “Riptide: The Lost Interviews.”

September 9, 2013, 2:57 pm