Tuesday, July 26, 2005
TEXT: Remarks of Craig Newmark on future of journalism 03-22-05
TRANSCRIPT OF EXCERPTS OF REMARKS BY
founder, CRAIG.S LIST
At the New Media Public Lecture Series
Presented by the Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism
and the Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley
March 22, 2005, Berkeley, Calif.
VIDEO STREAM AT: http://journalism.berkeley.edu/events/details.php?ID=214
Sometimes we look at the big news and we try to figure out who should we trust
what should we trust about issues like Anwar drilling or maybe this Weapons of
Mass Destruction thing. How do we know what to trust, who to trust or something
like that? And it has occurred to me personally that this is a big issue for
our times because it affects our lives in a huge way. So my mind has drifted
into this, into these areas where journalism and news are changing. And this is
a big deal . . . .
. . . . Also as a matter of conscience, we do know that Craig's List is
affecting the classified revenue that newspapers get and we're trying to
understand this. And you might correct me in a number of ways. For example,
I've read some reports which says the kind of classifieds we get are normally
the ones that would never go to a newspaper. I don't know . . . I hear both
sides of that.
I do tell people that my instincts tell me that the problem has more to do with
loss of trust. People talk about it, people of multiple political stripes, they
say that they know the whole Iraq thing. People know that something went on,
apparently a scam, and yet people didn't cover that . . . .
. . . . A good example of citizen journalism is Ohmy News out of Korea. They
were the folks who broke the best the story of apparently Connie Rice perjuring
herself in front of the 911 Commission. I haven't seen peep out of that in the
American press, but these people drilled down pretty hard and did a good job.
There was even I think Congressman Waxman has recommended a congressional
inquiry which hasn't gone anywhere. It wasn't reported . . . .
. . . So I have a feeling this trust issues are a big thing. What's gonna.
matter is things are evolving, we are seeing a for real, you choose your term,
a transition to new means of delivering the news, to writing it, to new means
of filtering and fact checking.
I don't really know what I'm talking about. I'm a full-time customer service
rep. But I've enlisted the aide of people who, let's say, are noted in this
area, and am talking to them and trying to get some help. Personally I want to
do something to help the people who are getting seriously involved in that.
That's me speaking personally. I can do some promotion, I might do a little
funding in tiny amounts. And then I'll have to decide if I want to drag Craig's
List into it . . . .
. . . It's incumbent on me to maybe help people [in journalism] who are doing
the real heavy hitting . . . .
. . . The technology's changing. People are demanding more in terms of news,
oh, some of the news that is normally not covered. People are also requesting
that news be much better fact checked. Stuff like that. I don't know where it's
going to happen, but I feel things are going to get a lot better for news
producers, editors, that role will expand, and there will be editors who are
news filters, aggregators, more. And we're going to see new kinds of
newspapers and magazines delivered over the net. The publishers, though, the
one's that are not starting to change, like today, may be screwed. I don't
QUESTION: Have you thought much about what aspect of .citizens journalism.
interest you the most?
Remember, I acknowledge my ignorance and I'm also lazy. So what I'm doing is
I'm getting other people to look at that kind of thing, because maybe we
shouldn't get into it. Maybe we should find one or more of the places where
people are doing that kind of thing and then say, hey, this is good. Maybe
personally I'll say hey, here is a story I'm personally concerned with and
FactCheck.org has taken a look at it and they think it is for real and let's
proceed with that . . . fact check is really good because it is very clear they
are non-partisan . . . .
QUESTION: The currency you seem to trade in is trust and not money.
. . . . I don't know if I'm any of those things. Basically, I'm one very
persistent nerd. I have I guess an obligation to the community I've built up.
I'm going to keep the faith. I'm not an activist or anything like that. I just
feel things should be better. And I don't want to be pious about any of that
stuff. That's what I'm working on. It's fairly gratifying . . . I don't care
too much about a lot of politics, but one of my roles is to fight scams, and I
don't care whether they are economic or political scams.
QUESTION: On the one hand, deliberately or not, had you have helped to push
journalism to this very crucial inflection point, because you're broken up our
business model. So what do you hear when we make the comment about community
journalism? What do you envision that being?
I'm not sure about what community journalism will be. I do think professional
and amateur journalism, it's all going to blur together. Fact checking might
become a job that lots of people do. I think editors and journalists are going
to be paid directly by people in the community. If you find someone whose news
you can rely on and trust and action on, you may wind up being paid for that.
There's going to be some kind of new role that is going to merge editor and
critic and fact checker filter. Because even the job of a theater critic is to
filter out all that and tell you want you want to see. Same thing with the TV
critic or a movie critic. I think this is all going to merge together. I think
people are going to be paying sometimes for content. And I think we may end up,
eventually, paying people for their magazines of sorts, of content that we
might want to see and for that matter content that comes out at random that we
don't know we want to see but it might be entertaining.
QUESTION: Isn.t it hard to discern trust online?
In terms of trust and all that, I haven't thought about that in depth except
the idea of being continually engaged with people. I'd just say keep engaged
with people and treat them like you want to be treated and in terms of you're
writing style, don't sound like you're a corporate business person. Just sound
like you're a person . . . .
. . . . We're all pretty smart consumers. And the kids these day with their
instant messaging and rock music, the kids are becoming even smarter and
smarter about consuming media and they are probably not so much cynical as just
QUESTION: So, what I'm hearing is that somebody is going to have to start
paying people to run fact-check programs. The media is broadening. Somebody is
going to have to start pay for these people's salaries. Where is this going to
come from? Are the consumers going to start paying more money?
I'm not sure. My guess is that, yea, there will be a lot of people who will
possibly be glad to pay more money for more reliable news as they perceive it.
This will be mixed in a lot with entertainment and so on. I know I'd be willing
to and whenever I talk about it, people are willing to do that. It is starting
to work in Korea. We'll just have to see how it goes otherwise. I may be very
wrong. The thing is we do know some kind of change is occurring. The effect we
are probably having in terms of classified revenue we're probably accelerating
the change and again for me it is very important that people whose job this
relies on, at least people hear about this a lot and try to figure out where
this is trying to take you. So people can start to prepare now for the kind of
change that is happening and this will be a big deal. I think I put up a link,
in terms of stories today, I think the Annenberg [Center] is starting to put
up information about how citizen journalists are starting to train themselves.
QUESTION: The notion of fact checkers seems so establishment. How do you see
those things bubbling up?
I have a different opinion. Everyone I talk to from possibly the producer or
consumer side, they want fact checking. We want something they can trust, which
means someone has to go over the details. And that sounds good to me.
QUESTION: So that's the old model, sort of?
Maybe so. But, see, I don't care if it is old or new or whatever. I want
something I can trust. Which means fact checking, usually someone else doing
QUESTION: Are you worried about people taking away your market share?
We do consider that. Efforts in the U.S. have failed because it was pretty
clear they weren.t dedicated to customer service and they were just trying to
make a lot of money fast. In Europe, there are a number of sites in the native
languages which are doing fine . . . .
QUESTION: So it is the trust that everybody is working in?
Trust. Well, that's pretty much how we run our lives. Our lives are pretty much
who you know, which is another way of saying, who do you trust?
-- END OF TALK ---