Friday, November 25, 2005

Craigslist Founder Slams U.S. Press, May Launch New Online News Project

By E&P Staff

Published: November 23, 2005 12:30 PM ET

NEW YORK Saying U.S. newspapers "are afraid to talk truth to power," Craigslist founder Craig Newmark hinted that he's about to launch a major online journalism project within the next few months that will copy the successful "wisdom of the masses" approach to classified advertising and apply it to journalism.

Newmark made his remarks before the Oxford University business school earlier this week, and the British newspaper the Guardian reported the details. has become one of the 50 most-popular sites on the Internet thanks in large part to a community that has arisen around free classified and personal ads. But the free classifieds model Craigslist has helped popularize has also hurt newspapers and cost industry jobs, a fact Newmark owned up to in his speech.

"The faster that the newspaper industry develops new forms of delivery -- flexible screens connected to your cell phone -- the faster important jobs can be preserved," he said.

When talk turned to the problems plaguing the U.S. news industry, Newmark let fly: "The big issue in the U.S. is that newspapers are afraid to talk truth to power," the Guardian quoted him as saying. "The White House press corps don't speak the truth to power -- they are frightened to lose access they don't have anyway. ... The American public has lost a lot of trust in conventional newspaper mechanisms. Mechanisms are now being developed online to correct that."

Newmark also said coverage of the Iraq war and the press' involvement in the Valerie Plame case had damaged American journalism.

As for his new online venture, Newmark offered few details, but implied that it would employ Web technology to allow readers to determine what the major news stories would be.

"We have seen a genuine wisdom-of-crowds effect at work at times on our Web site," he said.

Writing on his
blog, Newmark offered only more hints:

"I'm working with some folks on technologies that promise to help people find the most trusted versions of the more important stories... and this is personal, helping out another group not associated with craigslist. This kind of technology is intended to preserve the best of existing journalistic practices, and should help retain newsroom jobs."

Let's make it world wide; open source, independent news.
Let us all remember that money/power corrupts!


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