Former Time Magazine editor Walter Isaacson, during a panel discussion on journalism’s past and future at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference.
As the World Wide Web started to take off, Isaacson contemplated charging a small fee for readers to enjoy his publication’s content online. “Instead, young advertising executives from Madison Avenue came rushing across Fifth Avenue to the Time and Life Building with bags of money to dump on our desks to put banner ads on whatever we were putting online,” says Isaacson, now the CEO of the Aspen Institute. “We said, ‘Whoa, this is easy. We will never charge for content because we want eyeballs.’”
"And that was the beginning of the end of journalism."
Understanding the path the journalism industry has taken since is not exactly simple. But some are trying. John Huey, recently retired editor-in-chief of Time Inc. (TWX), Martin Nisenholtz, a special advisor to the New York Times, and Paul Sagan, former editor of new media at Time Inc. recently completed an elaborate project — a collection of 60-70 video interviews documenting how the journalism industry changed following the introduction of digital media. The project, called “Riptide,” is set to debut in September. A preview can be found in Fortune.