The owners of big legacy news businesses have struggled against disrupters such as Google and Amazon, often with the effect of a frustrated ocean swimmer flailing against a fierce rip current. But with each digital click upward in Moore’s law (processing power) and Metcalfe’s law (network power) the tide of technological disruption has only risen, washing many of the legacy swimmers further out to sea, or at least diminishing their financial prowess.
To document the transformation of the news business, the authors created an oral history project, excerpted in the July 22 issue of Fortune. They gathered the personal recollections of a broad but select group of principals who faced the choices, made the decisions, placed the bets, and now have the benefit of hindsight as to how it could, or couldn’t, have played out differently.
The authors brought their own experiences in the media and tech industries to the project. John Huey is a writer, editor, and publishing executive, recently retired as editor in chief of Time Inc. Martin Nisenholtz is a senior adviser for the New York Times Co. and an adjunct professor at the Columbia Journalism School. Paul Sagan is executive vice chairman of Akamai Technologies and a former reporter and editor at Time Inc. and CBS. They collaborated on this project as Fellows at the Joan Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School during the 2013 spring term.
(The complete report will be published at www.digitalriptide.org on Sept. 9.)