David Smith has a long interview with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. It hits on the usual well-worn topics when ‘old school’ media discusses Craigslist, including the idea that it was Newmark gutting the classified ads market that led to the loss of newspaper revenue in the 21st century downfall:
And yet there is a persistent, widespread view that Newmark’s humble-looking site destroyed classified advertising, one of the newspaper industry’s most valuable cash cows. Last October’s New York Times article – the one that called him a “villain” – stated: “Researchers eventually estimated that Craigslist had drained $5bn from American newspapers over a seven-year period. In the Bay Area, the media was especially hard hit.”
…Newmark says: “I feel very strongly about the issue because journalists lose jobs and that’s accelerated this year. But in the last two or three years, I found economists and industry analysts [who have looked] at the numbers – they adjust for inflation, household growth and all that – and they say that there’s two things that happened in the early 50s, one of which was TV news, and from there [we have seen] a straight-line decline in newspaper circulation revenues, accelerated 10 years ago by the advent of the platforms
(The second thing that happened in the 1950s was Newmark’s birth).
Let’s assume that all the ills of the newspaper business can be blamed on Craigslist. (I know, but bear with me for a moment). Look at what Craigslist could have done with its position of power, and remember this was long before Facebook, Twitter, or the goliaths of Social Media.
If Craig Newmark hadn’t picked up the momentum and been ‘the one’, I’m sure there would have been a very similar site run by another person with a different moral view. Who would you rather have seen in that seat?