Thursday, November 24, 2005
Craigslist founder says he's helping news recommendation service
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005
By Dan Fost
San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Craig Newmark says newspapers "are afraid to talk truth."...
Craig Newmark, the San Francisco engineer who created the popular Craigslist
Internet site, is getting involved in the news game.
Newmark, whose free Web site listings have wreaked havoc with the newspaper
business model over the past few years, acknowledged Wednesday that he is
working with other people on a new media venture involving "technologies
that promise to help people find the most trusted versions of the more
Newmark, who was en route from England Wednesday, wrote in his blog, or
online journal, that the initiative is "not associated with Craigslist, just
me, trying to help." In a subsequent call to The Chronicle, Newmark said,
"There is confusion about this thing being my effort, whereas I'm just a
minor contributor to a second effort."
The British newspaper the Guardian, writing about a speech Newmark gave at a
conference in Oxford, characterized his plans as a major online journalism
project that would launch in three months.
The newspaper said Newmark criticized conventional U.S. media and opined
that a more decentralized "wisdom of crowds" approach might work better.
"The big issue in the U.S. is that newspapers are afraid to talk truth to
power. The White House press corps don't speak the truth to power -- they
are frightened to lose access they don't have anyway."
Newmark, who started Craigslist in his apartment in 1994 and has seen it
grow to a worldwide audience, said recent developments, such as journalists
coming under fire for controversial leaks in the Valerie Wilson case, are
eroding readers' trust.
"The American public has lost a lot of trust in conventional newspaper
mechanisms. Mechanisms are now being developed online to correct that," he
said, according to the Guardian.
Yet Newmark, whose site was blamed in one study for siphoning $50 million in
ads from Bay Area newspapers, struck a more conciliatory note on his blog,
"This kind of technology is intended to preserve the best of existing
journalistic practices and should help retain newsroom jobs," he wrote.
"It's intended to complement, preserve and grow existing media."
It was unclear from his comments if his site would resemble a news
aggregator, like the Google News feature that searches online news sites, or
if it would be more of a so-called "citizen journalism" initiative, in which
ordinary people offer their own reportage outside the strictures of
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