Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.org chats about the success of his site, and the state of the online news business. Some excerpts:
- Q: Is Craigslist a threat to newspapers, as people say?
Newmark: Not in a significant way. We do drain some revenue from some papers that rely on ads. But I have spoken to the industry analysts, and there is a bigger threat from the niche sites and niche papers. Sites like Monster are more of a threat because they suck away a lot more job ads. An even bigger threat is the pressure from Wall Street to get like 10 or 20 percent profit margins. Maybe papers should focus on better Web sites, delivering the news better through the Net. Paper is just an expensive media. It’s expensive to buy the ink, print the paper and deliver it.
- Q: Do classified ads simply work better online?
Newmark: I think so. Because online your ad can be as long as you want, it can include rich media, and if there’s a mistake in it you can fix it fast. And once your need is satisfied, you can remove it fast. Those are pretty good advantages. When something is on paper, of course, you can’t get rid of it really fast. It’s going to be there for 24 hours. Or, if it’s weekly, it will be there for a week.
- Q: How is journalism changing?
Newmark: I see professional and citizen journalism blurring together. The model of professional journalism involves writing, editing and fact checking. The stereotypical model of citizen journalism — blogging — involves publishing and then maybe having other people fact check. I see these blurring together. The result is going to be a much more serious kind of journalism with an increasing amount of trust in articles.