On Craigslist, Job Loses at Mainstream News Orgamizations, and Citizen Journalism

The San Franscisco Weekly reports in the article Craig$list.com, that the very popular classified ad site, its founder calls it an online marketplace “like a fleamarket,” is beginning to cause layoffs at well-known and established news organizations. The story offers all sorts of interesting facts. For example, Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, still uses text-based Pine as his email program. Probably not a bad idea. (-:

Seriously, the article includes plenty of good reading. Here are a few passages from the nine page article.

Newmark now suffers from a moral dilemma: He feels guilty about helping cause job losses and poorer-quality papers, but he’s excited to accelerate the decline of the big, bad mainstream media. He seems determined to remedy his sins against the media by changing it for the better, lending his name and dollars to a citizen journalism movement populated by J-school professors, idealistic techno-futurists, and so-called citizen journalists.

The hardest-hit publications are in the Bay Area, which accounts for about one-quarter of Craigslist’s traffic. The Chronicle and its competitors lose more than $50 million per year because of job ads that have migrated to Craigslist, according to a 2004 report by Bob Cauthorn, the former vice president of digital media at Chronicle Web site SFGate.com, who is now working on his own media venture, City Tools.

The San Jose Mercury News alone misses out on $12 million annually in employment ad revenue because of Craigslist, according to recent estimates by Lou Alexander…

While the failings of the modern newspaper industry are many, if Craigslist wasn’t costing them big bucks, it’s unlikely that publishers would have created a host of Craigslist-copycat sites. BackPage, the mostly free classifieds site launched last year by SF Weekly’s corporate parent, New Times, is only slightly more commercial than Craigslist, offering additional paid services that place an ad higher in the listings or print it in the paper. While it stopped the bleeding of classifieds from New Times papers, Senior Vice President Scott Spear admits that BackPage has little chance of overtaking Craigslist in its established cities. Nationally, BackPage has 1.8 million visitors per month, less than the number Craigslist attracts in the Bay Area alone.

To Craigslist’s executives, the consequences for competitors and other industries aren’t important. Their choices are justified, they believe, by what the user community asks for.

Every month, 10 million people worldwide click through 3 billion pages of Craigslist.

A good read not only on Craigslist but also its founder and ciizen journalism in general. Btw, OurMedia, Wikipedia, and Korea’s OhMyNews are also mentioned.

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