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

Unbundling and its Costs

Volume 1:
CEOs, Coders, News Execs, Disrupters

That’s been the problem. Newspaper people are used to the idea that you’ve got to be able to make something successful.
Roger Fidler
What we believed then, and still believe, is that the digital space rewards niche publications that can really organize themselves editorially, organize themselves in terms of a business model around a single subject, or at least a single set of closely related subjects.
Jim VandeHei
Will the world continue to be bundled in the television space in cable or will it be unbundled? We’ve been able to play in both spaces and let the marketplace determine what’s going to happen.
Betsy Morgan

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Journalism Stars vs News Brands

Volume 2:
Tech Journalists

Because like or hate broadcast TV what you lose by having these really narrow channels is all the serendipity……You’re not going to hear anything that’s ever going to challenge your worldview.
Denise Caruso
I’m conscious that I have a byline online. I’m representing Fortune. My byline is my brand.
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
I was aware of the branding thing early and I’ve always been aware of it to whatever extent you need to be aware of it. I think most brand-name writers are people that people know.
John Dvorak

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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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Began Covering Tech
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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