Disrupting the News: How Technology is Transforming the Media


Technology has transformed the way news is produced, delivered and consumed around the world. From disruption in business models to changes in readership and access, digital platforms make journalism more vibrant and also more fragile. It is rare to find an industry that has been able to expand its market so rapidly and develop dynamic new ways to interact with consumers -- and yet find itself facing an existential crisis. This dissonance is what makes the nexus of media and technology so fascinating.

This course will examine those changes, starting with a brief introduction to the impact of other technologies (such as the telegraph or television) and then focusing closely on the Internet.

We will examine how technology has affected:
1) Worldwide access to journalism, wherever it is reported or published. This includes changes in revenues and costs and in how journalists perform their roles;
2) Faster response to news by journalists and their consumers, with implications for the ethics and accuracy of those stories;
3) Lower costs of production, enabling greater competition and requiring dynamic new business models;
4) New platforms, particularly in social media, that shift the balance of power in news and threaten to disintermediate traditional players;
5) Greater mobility in news, for journalists and their audiences.

Assignments will include readings from authors such as Postman, Shirky and Brand, along with the opportunity to study and manipulate real-time user data from news organizations, thanks to our relationship with Chartbeat (https://chartbeat.com/). We will have access to guest speakers in New York City’s vibrant new-media market, including venture capitalists who fund journalism startups.

Meet the Instructor(s)

William Grueskin

Bill Grueskin began his journalism career at the Daily American in Rome, Italy. After graduating from Stanford, he served as a VISTA volunteer and founding editor of the weekly Dakota Sun on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota.

He then worked at various metro newspapers, including the Tampa Tribune and Miami Herald. As the Herald's city editor, he oversaw local coverage of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The paper’s coverage of the storm won the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for public service.

Grueskin also worked 13 years at the Wall Street Journal, including roles as a deputy Page One editor, managing editor of WSJ.com, and deputy managing editor/news, overseeing 14 domestic news bureaus and the combined print-online editing desks.

Grueskin came to Columbia University in August 2008 as academic dean. At the Journalism School, he oversaw a dramatic transformation of the program's curriculum. In addition, he co-authored "The Story So Far: What We Know About the Business of Digital Journalism." He remains on the Columbia faculty, and also served as an executive editor at Bloomberg, overseeing efforts to train the global news staff to reach broader audiences across digital platforms.

Grueskin has a bachelor’s degree in classics from Stanford and a master’s degree in international economics and U.S. foreign policy from Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies.

Tony Haile

Tony Haile is the founding CEO of Chartbeat, the real-time data science and analytics company that works with over 4,000 media companies, including 80% of the top publishers in the US and in more than 60 countries around the world. Tony has also been an Adjunct Professor of Journalism at Columbia University and was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by FastCompany and 40 under 40 by Crain's NY Business. Prior to entering the startup world, Tony competed in a round the world yacht race and led and managed polar expeditions in the high Arctic. Startups are a lot like polar expeditions, just with less chance of losing a limb.