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: So newspapers wouldn’t have so many problems if they put more resources online?
Newmark: No, that’s just part of it. The part that concerns me most is the occasional failure to speak truth to power. Sometimes papers are good at that, sometimes not.
Suppose, hypothetically, that one’s government was trying to produce a fraudulent case for going to war. You need the press to stop that from happening. We need that to continue working, or there’s no telling what kind of foreign policy disaster might befall. So we need people asking tough questions and insisting on answers.
Q: Do you feel the press isn’t doing its job?
Newmark: I would never say that. We have people like Helen Thomas who do a great job. I know she’s terrorized Stephen Colbert. You probably saw the Pew Research report that says that the most knowledgeable Americans watch Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. For me, Colbert and Stewart are the most trusted names in news.
Q: So why do so many people say Craigslist is hurting newspapers?
Newmark: It’s largely publishers who have, I guess, missed the boat. Sometimes it’s easier to say something like that instead of taking responsibility.
Actually, not very many people say that. It’s usually the same people repeating it over and over. Sometimes when you say something over and over, some people get the impression that it’s true. But a lot of people in the business use our site. They use it to get stuff done.
Because, honestly. I am so catastrophically sick of the whining about the Internet that goes on. Do your job. Don’t blame someboy else for doing a better job, just do your job well and quit being such an insecure little WATB.
You know, I have no patience for this anymore. I am getting tired of people in journalism, smart people, acting like the newspaper industry’s enabler. “Oh, it’s okay, you had a rough day, just one more newsroom cut and then you can quit, it’s all right.” Fuck NO IT’S NOT ALL RIGHT. God, for a group of people which prides itself on having a bullshit detector turned up to eleven, journalists will swallow some crap about their own surroundings. And after a while, it’s not even maddening anymore, it’s just sad. Grow the fuck up, recognize you have a problem, and solve that problem, not a whole host of other crap about coaxial cables and how many hits somebody posting cats flushing toilets gets, because it’s embarrassing.