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Newmark Denies Craigslist Is Killing Newspapers

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the craig-newmark-personal-hero dept.

Media 132

Ian Lamont writes "Computerworld has an interview with Craig Newmark about the history of Craigslist and it's growth over the years (it's now expanding into foreign-language markets — it recently created several Spanish sites in Spanish cities). He also disputes the notion that Craigslist is responsible for dismantling newspapers' revenue models. Rather, he blames niche-classified sites like autotrader.com and Monster as well as newspapers' unrealistic profit expectations in the new media world: 'Newspapers are going after 10% to 30% profit margins for their businesses and that hurts them more than anything. A lot of things are happening on the Internet that never happened before because the Internet is a vehicle for everyone. The mass media is no longer only for the powerful, and that's a huge change for the entire newspaper and news industry."

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Newspapers: A necessary waste? (4, Insightful)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808174)

On the one hand, the newspaper's days are numbered. Who wants to go outside and dig their paper out of the snow to read yesterday's news when they can go online and get what's happening right now?

On the other hand, that's a damn shame. All the news media in recent times has become, frankly, a laughing stock, but newspapers it seems have held onto the most integrity (not that that's saying much). More importantly, we need someone who can pay reporters to investigate the government, and bloggers just aren't going to cut it.

I fear living in a world where the only things a government has to worry about are citizen journalists and internal leaks.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (3, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808240)

On the one hand, the newspaper's days are numbered. Who wants to go outside and dig their paper out of the snow to read yesterday's news when they can go online and get what's happening right now?
Because they prefer being able to hold something in their hands with high "resolution" while not risking damaging an expensive item, and which is easier on their eyes, and which can compactly contain information about local events and businesses that haven't reconciled everything with Google maps just yet.

Not saying newspapers are superior, just listing advantages, and one of the reasons I've considered getting a subscription.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

Nar Matteru (1099389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808784)

You can spill coffee on a newspaper in early morning stupor and only lose a newspaper. I'm too poor to try that with a laptop or kindle, but I'm fairly certain the results will be a tad more expensive.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21809454)

Shocking! Someone spelled "lose" correctly!

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809300)

Not saying newspapers are superior, just listing advantages, and one of the reasons I've considered getting a subscription.
Well, that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it. Personally I've recently cancelled my newspaper subscription; evening news on the PVR + the web (mainly cnn and craigslist) is simply better, and doesn't pile up in my garage. No fuss, no muss.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (2, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809788)

Well, that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it. Personally I've recently cancelled my newspaper subscription; evening news on the PVR + the web (mainly cnn and craigslist) is simply better, and doesn't pile up in my garage. No fuss, no muss.

Seems to me that such an opinion could be rewritten to read:

I consider news to be a half-hour multimedia event that presents superficial coverage of major events, or events that appeal only to the broadest demographic, and am willing to have the the rest summarised in the form of opinion or commentary, or a ticker along the bottom of my screen, all presented in an entertaining fashion. Never mind that my half-hour event is filled to a large part with commercials, promos of "coming up next" stories, friendly chatter, more promos, and more commercials.

You can get "more" news in a half-hour of NPR than you would find by combining what's presented on all the major networks, CNN, and or offered up and re-interpreted by the cable-channel pundits in a given 24-hour cycle. And that pales by comparison to what a good newspaper offers on a daily basis.

Newspapers offer solid writing, real reporting, context. So next time you pass by that yellowing copy of last month's Sunday edition of The New York Times that you pulled from your snowed-in driveway, stop to consider that it probably has more in it than you you've seen on television, or will see for months to come. And much of it will be just as relevent, informative, and topical.

News isn't just the headlines. It's the stories, events and people behind the headlines, and most of it comes from reporters. Who work at newspapers.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21811190)

> Newspapers offer solid writing, real reporting, context.

lolz

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812282)

You can get "more" news in a half-hour of NPR than you would find by combining what's presented on all the major networks, CNN, and or offered up and re-interpreted by the cable-channel pundits in a given 24-hour cycle.
Actually I agree with that entirely. Although I mentioned and visit cnn, I agree it's 99% just little updates to current events as they occur by the hour. I listen to NPR on the way home from work every day - on my mp3 player, so I can skip to the more interesting stories. (And yes I am a "member"). Still doesn't make me long for the newspaper though.

I do still like the evening news though, mainly NBC - video adds a lot to some stories. But if that's not substantive enough for you, there's the MacNeil Lehrer News Hour.

Pundits, they are not news. And neither do I consider them entertaining, they're just dreck.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (2, Funny)

mac1235 (962716) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810044)

And because you can't put a website in the bottom of the parrot cage. Well, maybe MSN.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (0, Troll)

Nomad the Odd (1139747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808254)

Do you honestly think the government is worried about newspaper journalists? The journalists know if they publish anything too bad, they will be put on no fly lists, probably not get press passes, and whatever else the government thinks it an get away with.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

cjsm (804001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808256)

Who really has time to read a newspaper anymore? With the internet, cable TV, video games, a wife and kids, and a job, how many people have an hour or two extra to read the paper also. I have a bunch of magazines piled up that I've never gotten around to reading because I spend so much time on the internet.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808278)

What the hell?! That actually happens, with newspaper thrown in the yard? I thought that was just on TV and the game Paper Boy!

Here in civilized countries our paperboys walk up to the front door and shove the papers through our mail slots, or (if we have a mailbox) they shove it into the mailbox.

(Or they dump the papers in the garbage and go back to sleep; I believe this is a cross-cultural thing)

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808424)

In the US it's illegal to put anything by the US Mail
in a "mailbox". Some newspapers are VERY touchy about
that sort of thing.

OTOH, there are "newspaper boxes". There are also
porches in some places. In many newer urban US
neighborhoods, the personal mailbox as such doesn't
even exist anymore.

You just have an appartment style set of locked
post office style boxes planted down the street.

Letter carriers don't even walk in this country anymore...

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809764)

Letter carriers don't even walk in this country anymore...
Mine does. Yes, he drives the truck to the neighborhood, but then I see him walking from house to house delivering the mail. If I'm working outside he'll at least wave, but usually he stops to chat.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (3, Interesting)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808542)

What the hell?! That actually happens, with newspaper thrown in the yard? I thought that was just on TV and the game Paper Boy!

Here in civilized countries our paperboys walk up to the front door and shove the papers through our mail slots, or (if we have a mailbox) they shove it into the mailbox.

(Or they dump the papers in the garbage and go back to sleep; I believe this is a cross-cultural thing)
 
 
Time is money, if houses are far apart and/or not close to the road a lot of paper delivery people will just throw it in the driveway. I had a job where I did nothing but bring a new newspaper to anyone who called up and said their paper landed in a puddle, snow bank, on their roof, or was missing a section, etc. When people would call up and complain I would suggest they tip their delivery person better. The paper lost a lot of customers. Deliveries were handled by private contractors, thats the free market at work. If your getting $.15 cents a paper you sure can't spend 2 minutes on each one.
 
But, back on topic, the paper was doing so bad they had meetings with everyone in the company 25 at a time to brainstorm ideas to increase readership or cut costs. Naturally I didn't mention that I, and most in my office, spent the majority of my days reading the paper. Anyway, this graph they showed us plotted a steady decline in readership from the early 90's to the present (early 2004). They were bleeding customers, and probably still are. There were a lot of suggestions (mostly bad), but there isn't much they can do, and besides relentlessly pushing heavily discounted subscriptions, it doesn't seem they've changed much. They do own a rather popular local web portal, so i suppose they are making up some of their losses. Strangely there are many small free papers around still. I guess the newspaper as we know it is still going to be here for a while to come.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810070)

I had a job where I did nothing but bring a new newspaper to anyone who called up and said their paper landed in a puddle, snow bank, on their roof, or was missing a section, etc. When people would call up and complain I would suggest they tip their delivery person better. The paper lost a lot of customers. Deliveries were handled by private contractors, thats the free market at work. If your getting $.15 cents a paper you sure can't spend 2 minutes on each one.
Why is the delivery person's salary my problem?? If I were so inclined, how would I even tip the person as they simply drive by at 5AM and toss the paper through the window of their car.

How much money did it cost the paper for re-deliveries? Maybe they should have paid their delivery staff more and possibly solved the problem of poorly delivered newspapers...

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (3, Interesting)

corychristison (951993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808282)

I hear ya.

The newspaper is stale and (here) it costs more than it is worth. You get little to no news, the only thing worth looking at is the crossword or sudoku. I haven't subscribed to the paper since I moved into my most recent apartment (11 months ago on the new year).

We have a community website that is run by one of the local radio stations... it has fairly "up-to-the-minute" updates and is generally very informative. It's entirely free and funded by advertising from LOCAL businesses. Being a business owner, I've noticed a fairly steady increase in traffic since I've gotten some ads put up.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

ReverendJake (667502) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809926)

As a newspaper (well, alt-weekly) editor, I've got to respond to this.

You could have written your comment from my town. I work in the same offices as the local daily, and got my start as a beat reporter for them.

In my mind, the problem comes down to profit margin. Sure, Craigslist is eating up classified ad revenue. I've been in those meetings, too. There's not as much money coming in.

So what's the initial solution? Cutting positions in the editorial department (that's the folks what does the writin').

The problem I see locally is that it means we don't have as much local news coverage. My daily went from five reporters to cover the community down to two, primarily through attrition. Heck, I covered local education (K-12, plus a university and technical college), and wasn't replaced when I moved over to the alt-weekly gig.

A lot of people in my company are pushing user-generated content. In our case, that's meant repurposing posts from our Web site's blog to a weekly "community voice" publication, much like the site you describe.

So what happens? We get a community publication that's old news to anyone who checks out our Web site, and doesn't contain any "real" reporting. We end up with a daily that's a conglomeration of a few local stories, but mostly wire copy from the Associated Press that anyone can see for free up on CNN.com or a million other sites the day before. And people stop reading.

"Revenue generation" is a big word in the news industry, and the editorial folks aren't seen as direct revenue generators.

Granted, I'm still a low man on the totem pole, but my solution would be to plow money into getting good reporters and writers. Think about it - for the national stuff, anyone's going to check out the big Web sites or their TV news.

But for local things -- what happened at the school board meeting, new businesses opening downtown, who's up-and-coming in the city's political scene -- they'd only have one definitive source. That'd take more reporters, but I think that eventually it'd drive up our readership, thus boosting ad revenue, making everyone happy.

'Top of the Hours' News Is Thin Gruel (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810182)

My guess, Cory, is that you probably don't really care what's going on outside your own little world. Otherwise, you wouldn't say newspapers provide "little to no news." My local daily is full of wire service reports from around the world. A typical edition usually has one or two lengthy staff-written pieces about local and regional matters that will not appear in any other mediium. Can the paper's distribution system compete with the speed of other media? No. But no other media reports in the depth that the newspaper does. If my local newspaper runs a 5-part series of 10,000 word articles about local politcal corruption, do you even imagine that any other news source is going to cover it in the same depth? Come on. Internet readers get annoyed if they need to scroll, and TV and radio seem to have a prohibition on any story lasting longer than a minute or so. That local community radio site is likely buying copy from the wire services, too, and doesn't contribute much of anything itself.

Sounds like you're satisified with 3.5 minutes of news at the top of the hour. I'm not, and neither are a lot of other people. That's the market newspapers serve. So, if you are happy with knowing that "A bomb just went off in Iraq and lots of people were killed" or "More people are losing their homes because they can't handle the hike in their adjustable mortage", then stick to the radio, But, if you want to have a chance to understand why all that is happening, you need to start reading a good newspaper.

And, remember, paper is only a publication medium. If papers were invented today, they'd go straight to the web. Everything in my paper's "paper" edition is on its site, plus a lot more. A smart newspaper knows it will take more than paper to survive.

Re:'Top of the Hours' News Is Thin Gruel (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21811494)

you probably don't really care what's going on outside your own little world

Smug, much?

My local daily is full of wire service reports from around the world

So is Google News. What's your point?

-jcr

Re:'Top of the Hours' News Is Thin Gruel (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21811816)

1. The OP seemed to be cheerleading for the demise of newspapers, but my guess is he wouldn't subscribe to a paper if it was the only way to get the news.

2. My point: Google News is software and serves. It contributes nothing to the pool of original news writing and reportage. My local newspaper -- which is smart enough to have had a serious web presence for years -- creates original news that I can get only from it, whether I read it at the breakfast table or inside my browser.

Re:'Top of the Hours' News Is Thin Gruel (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812736)

Wow... I suppose I should know better than to post something like this on a website such as this.

I stated my opinion... and I got an asshole response. Go figure.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (3, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808404)


Who wants to go outside and dig their paper out of the snow to read yesterday's news when they can go online and get what's happening right now?

People who don't want to have to sit in front of a computer to do so? Paper isn't such a bad technology.


All the news media in recent times has become, frankly, a laughing stock, but newspapers it seems have held onto the most integrity (not that that's saying much). More importantly, we need someone who can pay reporters to investigate the government, and bloggers just aren't going to cut it.

And that's why newspapers will survive. We need paid people that are going to do the legwork and investigation. Where do you go to get news on the internet? As you say, the print media are the ones with the best stories. Not everyone might subscribe the the paper edition, but they'll still go to the website. Newspapers really make money off advertising anyway, not subscriptions.

The real problem with newspapers is just what Craig said. Investors expect really high profit margins of 10-30%. They aren't going out of business, but the business is certainly changing.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808726)

The real problem with newspapers is just what Craig said. Investors expect really high profit margins of 10-30%. They aren't going out of business, but the business is certainly changing.

One of the huge changes: they've cut production staff by 50%. At least, that's what they've done with the paper my father has worked at for 30+ years. They closed down one print shop completely, centralized production, and are down from 9 men per print-press to 5 (and cut down on shifts per week). There are a ton more mess ups (double pages, mis-aligned colors, etc) and everyone now hates their job.

Somehow, I doubt the people who are at the top have changed their schedule or life to accommodate this new world. Shit runs downhill, son. Times are only changing for some of us.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (4, Insightful)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808766)


All the news media in recent times has become, frankly, a laughing stock, but newspapers it seems have held onto the most integrity (not that that's saying much). More importantly, we need someone who can pay reporters to investigate the government, and bloggers just aren't going to cut it.

And that's why newspapers will survive. We need paid people that are going to do the legwork and investigation.
Close, but you're missing the point a bit... That is not why newspapers will survive, that is why they must survive.

Unfortunately, while hard-hitting investigative journalism is very necessary to the continued functioning of society, it is not something which is profitable. Since it is not profitable, it doesn't seem likely that it will survive.

You and I may think it's worth paying for that, but by and large Americans do not. They're perfectly happy to sit and watch entertainment programs like their local Faux News, where they can hear about the puppy that was rescued from a burning building by a cat. Meanwhile, since it's got "news" in the title, they feel like they're actually learning about what's going on in the world without having to do any of that "reading" thing the teachers kept trying to cram down their throats in school.

Make no mistake, I agree with you that newspapers are important, but I don't think that they're going to be able to survive.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808778)


Unfortunately, while hard-hitting investigative journalism is very necessary to the continued functioning of society, it is not something which is profitable.

This is simply not true. It IS profitable. It's simply not as profitable as some people would like.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810046)

This is simply not true. It IS profitable. It's simply not as profitable as some people would like.

Ultimately, in this day and age, I fear the two are taken as synonyms. Much like the original and present meanings of the word 'perfect'.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810680)

Much like the original and present meanings of the word 'perfect'.

eh? I, for one, am getting old. Care to enlighten (at least) me?

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812820)

Bah, disregard that completely. For some odd reason or another I brain-cramped and figured that people only use "perfect" in the "so good, nothing of the sort could beat it" or "ideal" senses of the word, whereas the less absolute statements of quality it can mean had fallen into disuse (like "a good fit" -- "this computer is perfect for your needs").

Here's some interesting read on the concept of perfection, though. [wikipedia.org] /p

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21809116)

Investigative journalism died with Dateline's "create your own story" a la Chevy trucks. It'smuch cheaper to invent a story then to do the research. I blame the Iraq war on CNN, not Bush & Fox.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809888)

Unfortunately, while hard-hitting investigative journalism is very necessary to the continued functioning of society, it is not something which is profitable. Since it is not profitable, it doesn't seem likely that it will survive.
That doesn't make sense. If it wasn't profitable, nobody would be doing it today. Since they are, it follows that it must be at least somewhat profitable -- perhaps not very much, but at least slightly.

I think the future will see a separation of content-creation and distribution. In the old model, a newspaper would do both: they paid reporters to do research and write stories; they also distributed the content, which included printing the paper and selling advertising. In the new model, reporters won't work directly for papers, but for a few big wire services that actually create "news" stories, and then sell them using a subscription model to news outlets.

This really isn't that bad; it remedies the inherent conflict-of-interest that newspapers have always had to deal with, between the news desk and the advertising-sales departments. The only thing it leaves out is local news, and bloggers seem to be doing a better job than all but the most 'hyperlocal' papers in that regard.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810806)

So, what are the papers complaining about then? Loss of revenues, or competition from CL about journalism?

I don't see CL as a threat to journalism, not by a longshot. So, the papers are whining that they are losing to CL because CL is offering, what, basically a FREE, easy-to-search service? WHY can't the brick-and-mortars printers have beaten CL to the punch? Not as if CL were being malicious. The papers didn't because they didn't have the WILL, or the FORESIGHT early on to think as visionaries. They jumped around did their war dances and CL was passing them up.

Most people want to SEARCH, not skip past ads. Or so it's obvious to me. I've found an apartment twice, and found work TWICE via CL, and in both cases, THEY CAME TO ME! Most papers of old have stale ads, or ads so quickly responded to as to be useless.

Anyone remember the old roommate connections of around 1992? It was probably a clue to Craig and his friends. The papers tried similar things but didn't formulate as nicely. CL did and adapted, and look at where it is. It is nimble, responsive, and locality-friendly. Even tourists can jump IN and OUT at will, randomly, and FIND things.

The papers need to change their business models and stop looking for Chrysler/Amtrak/GM bail outs. They need to find relevance. It IS nice to hold on to paper for tactile reasons (folding, dog-earing, spindling, etc), but for on-the-go, or environmentally-conscious types, carrying ink-shedding papers isn't going to do.

Aside from the employees of papers losing their jobs, probably librarians will be next hurt, followed by OCD types who have to stack a paper in a corner until the floor caves in. (It happened in Tokyo in 2004; I saw footage of an apartment collapse due to nobody seriously complaining, and because a mental-case guy stacked papers for YEARS until his upper floor unit collapsed...)

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

ghyd (981064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21813306)

"You and I may think it's worth paying for that, but by and large Americans do not." A type of media which implied cost do not filter out such content will be good then. Seems like a job for Internet.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809082)

"Paper isn't such a bad technology."

As a midterm storage technology, no. As a short-term information carrier it's horrible. The main reason I'm not subscribing to a paper isn't that the news is late or I couldnt spare the time to read a few articles.

It's that it piles up fast and it's a pain to carry to the recycling station.

Perhaps they could deliver it in toilet paper or soft tissue form; that way I'd have a use for it, and it'd be easily disposable after I'm done reading it.

"We need paid people that are going to do the legwork and investigation."

The run up to the Iraq war certainly put the nail in the coffin on that one. Any investigative journalism could, and would, punch holes wide enough to drive trucks through in every whitehouse press release. The appropriate response from legitimate investigative journalists would have been to punch those holes, expose the responsible people as liars and frauds, and perhaps avoided a lot of bloodshed and outright atrocities. Instead many just published the pressreleases like they were facts or 'news'.

If that's what paying for the investigation gives us I'd rather take the press releases straight up and recognized for what they are. And put my trust in the internet to tear them a new one. Which several sites did.

The real problem with newspapers is that the syndicated content is available anywhere for free as the amortized cost is close to zero. Op-ed, well, opinions, everyone's got one. And a substantial number of people will tell you theirs for free. Competition kills, eh. And, investigative reporting is as close to dead as it can get.

It's basic market economics; information isnt a scarce product. In fact, it's so oversupplied that the zero-cost alternatives produced every day would probably fill global consumer appetite for reading material for the next decade.

"They aren't going out of business, but the business is certainly changing."

A lot will. The aggregated copying and carrying inherent in the internet converts a local demand of the writing of a specific number of journalists into a global demand for the same specific number of journalists (modulated by some variance in demand and a few more languages). The game turned from several thousand different rooms playing musical chairs into one room with not that many chairs.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809336)

People who don't want to have to sit in front of a computer to do so?
Laptops are cheap enough, and easier to flip through than a newspaper. The paper reigns supreme only for the 15 minutes before the airplane reaches 10,000 feet :)

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (4, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808896)

I disagree. I think the newspapers' godoffal web sites with all the blinkey flashey advertising and javascript asking you if you want to debug it and the same story endlessly linked over and over on its index page is what is killing newspapers.

People are starting to realise that newspapers are published, edited, and written by utter morons.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808928)

Who's talking about killing journalism for profit? Nobody. The newspaper's days as distribution model are fading. Notice that people still subscribe to the New York Times online. The fact a lot of papers will be put out of business. A lot of local newspapers are flat out cruft. They reprint syndicated columnists and give out a minimum of news about the area. This change is good. I'm not one that enjoys journalism for profit, as I get most of my news from aggregators like here or not-for-profit stuff like PBS and NPR. But, I see the online market changing things in two ways. It will move the cruft, like high school sports scores and the minutia about social events, about an area online where it can be distributed more efficiently and it doesn't waste the resources that printing it up does. The online market is also breaking the hold that papers have on informing an area. With the online news market we essentially have competition. The most insightful commentary and the most useful reporting wins.

People will still pay for news. We're just streamlining and improving the process. I can't think of any reason why anyone would want to continue the local information monopolies that newspapers have on a community. There exists an elite club of newspapers, and busting up their model is going to force them to become more responsible about their reporting.

It's ironic really. The Internet is the greatest hearth for cruft sites when it comes to pop culture, but on the other hand it's killing the printing of cruft.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809496)

I don't know what it's like in the US; but here in the UK the newspapers comment and leading articles far outclasses that of the web.

The Times, in particular has comment and leading articles with the kind of firm backing in fact and insight that I have yet to find on web. Typically, comment on the web is done either by some part timer or arm chair blogger who lack the connections or the background knowledge to make the kind of argument that I value. On political topics, bloggers often tend to be highly partisan (reading blogs related to american presidential candidates really hammers this home; one candidate is the bees knees and voting for anyone else will make the sky fall.

Guest columns are an even better example; people have to be honest and upfront and put their plans and opinion across straight in print. While every party leader has their own youtube account, it's typically filled with the kind of PR heavy "look at what a nice guy I am" crap, which I don't rate.

Furthermore, there is a far higher degree of background research done by newspapers (and old media in general - they have the budget that citizen journalists don't), so while they don't always get the scoop on whatever scandal is going like some blogger do (or, more often, claim to have done) histories of persons and issues are very, very good. A good example is the recent case of data loss of the UK government; a strong research team gave the situation a backing of context that many new-media outlets (slashdot included here) failed to give.

There are issues. Coverage of tech issues is routinely poor from old-media. And I mean shocking. Coverage is poor, understanding of general issues is poor, and there is far too much focus on big names who actually have little to do with tech in general. Larger companies are far, far too often given too large an input in articles.

I do welcome this resurgence of citizen journalism. New media has much to add to the reporting of news. However, until the new-media generates establishments that can offer alternatives to Broadsheet Newspapers, there are going to be a number of kinds of journalism on which new-media cannot compete with the old.

Several British newspapers are very well written. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812830)

My experience is that the quality of writing in the best British newspapers is better than the writing in U.S. newspapers.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21809636)

>On the one hand, the newspaper's days are numbered. Who wants to go outside
>and dig their paper out of the snow to read yesterday's news when they can
>go online and get what's happening right now?

Me.

Because of many reasons:

1) Privacy. You heard me. I can take a paper and read it anywhere I want without worry of any snooping, be it content or reading habits.

2) Newspapers don't need batteries.

3) Permanency. I can take a weeks worth of newspapers and see how a story unfolded. On the internet, everything mutates, so it's harder to see where the mistaken ideas went.

4) I don't have to reboot a newspaper.

5) The newspaper has been arranged in a familiar logical fashion. No information overload or multiple sites to review. The previous day's events are summarized and easier to digest.

6) The newspaper's time lag allows a lot of junk news to fall out by the wayside. On the internet, you hear about things that aren't really news, but might be, like the Pope/President/Bill Gates is coming down with the sniffles. Could this be the beginning of the end???? I prefer to wait until a story matures before I read about it.

7) I could go on and on, but I won't. Idjits that think the internet is a replacement for newspapers aren't very smart people.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809896)

"I fear living in a world where the only things a government has to worry about are citizen journalists and internal leaks."

What, online news media outlets don't count? The fact that they convey their message with bits and bytes instead of dead trees doesn't make much difference to me. Also, do you seriously believe governments don't exert huge amounts of influence over traditional media "regimes"?

Take China, for example. State-run newspapers, state-run newscasts, etc. Hell, one of the only ways free-thinking Chinese journalists have of getting the word out on "interesting" stories is via the Internet. I'd be focused on helping those folks find reliable ways of breaking through the Great Firewall of China if I were you. It's technologies like that, and social network interfaces that allow groups of journalists to rapidly form their own publishing groups that will shape how news is delivered in the near future.

I fear living in a world where all public communications networks are state controlled, and encryption technologies that circumvent federal measures for intercepting comms are outlawed.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21811450)

I get so much junk mail that I no longer need newspapers for getting a fire going in my fireplace.

I'll still buy a paper once in a while when I'm traveling, but I haven't subscribed to one at home for at least a decade now.

-jcr

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812100)

I disagree... local weekly papers are still prospering.

The endangered species is the traditional daily paper, 90% of which consists of the same 10 AP stories that you can get anywhere.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21812670)

"I fear living in a world where the only things a government has to worry about are citizen journalists and internal leaks."

Welcome to the brave new world, where the news media is already under the thumb of the government. This is already happening right now, why do you think we have no impeachment hearings against Cheney or Bush? Why was Clinton's sex scandal covered more heavily than the loss of our freedoms and the crimes of the current administration? The guy who attacks America gets away in classic 1984 style - "The enemy is Hussein, the enemy has always been Hussein" and no news papers seem to give two craps? No... if you think mainstream news media is some bastion of integrity and honesty you are fooling yourself.

Re:Newspapers: A necessary waste? (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21813154)

You're killing your father, Craigslist!

the pick on craigs list? (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808230)

eBay, ubid, and countless other auction sites, along with the formentioned craigs list, autotrader, etc, etc. etc. The whole paper-classifieds industry is coming down. If newspapers don't take local classifieds to the internet and find a way to make some $$ of of it, they will need to find a new business model, period. The times are achangin'

WHAT? (0, Flamebait)

Kuku_monroe (753761) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808248)

Don't stand there and deny it! IT'S KILLING THEM!

Call the police, do something!

Craigslist kills newspapers. So fucking what? (5, Interesting)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808272)

It's funny to see someone bothering to repute claims that Craigslist "kills" newspapers. The question is not whether it does or doesn't (and IMO it does in a way), but why should we care?

It's a free market out there. Craigslist is able to offer services better than newspapers. Newspapers should either adapt to compete, or they deserve to die. Why should there be some kind of welfare state for newspapers where they have to be supported externally, or even more important, why should better technologies be attacked for outcompeting worse ones?

Do you attack cars for "killing" horse-and-carriage? Do you attack e-mail for reducing profits of snail mail/fax sales (and it did by a very large margin)? If the technology is able to better provide the service, it is the one that deserves to get the market.

I understand that many people base the argument like that "Newspapers offer content we like, but can only be funded by ads. Now people use craigslist for ads instead of papers, so papers have no money to publish other content with". While this may seem more indirect, I don't see why this is any more valid than the earlier example. If people are not willing to pay for the content on its own (via newspaper sales), then maybe you should move out of the market, or actually make your content worthwhile.

The "broadsheet" papers which actually offer content you don't see on a typical news site for free (such as in-depth editorials) are the ones that are still selling. If all your paper had is a bulletpoint list of recent events and a local buy-sell section, then why does it deserve to live in the first place, when you can get both free online (the first from any news site, the second from Craigslist). And if you claim your paper supposedly brings some value to the "good old mom-and-pop local community", then get the community to pay for it, either through a local tax the community agrees on, or through increased paper prices. If the community is not willing to pay either, than guess what, the value your paper provides to the community just isn't good enough for them to pay for.

Either offer something that's good on its own (and better than the competition), or get the hell out of the business. The protectionist neoluddism of "papers being oppressed by the evil Craigslist" is seriously pissing me off.

Re:Craigslist kills newspapers. So fucking what? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808480)


It's a free market out there.

No, it's NOT a free market, nor has it ever been. There's the Sherman anti-trust laws for one, and FCC restrictions on ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same market for another. We can argue about whether that's "good" or "bad", but the market sure as hell ain't free.

Why should there be some kind of welfare state for newspapers where they have to be supported externally

Huh? Who's proposing that? You I guess. It's pretty easy to knock down ideas that you invented for that sole purpose. Stop trying to control the conversation by inventing it. You're essentially trolling, just in a much more sophisticated way that most trolls.

Re:Craigslist kills newspapers. So fucking what? (2, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809306)

"No, it's NOT a free market, nor has it ever been."

I think you need to re-read your Adam Smith.

There are a lot of non-free qualities of the current market, but the two you mention are explicitly pro-free market regulations. The classic purpose of the free market as a concept is to encourage competition. To quote the Wealth of Nations:

"The price of monopoly is upon every occasion the highest which can be got. The natural price, or the price of free competition, on the contrary, is the lowest which can be taken, not upon every occasion, indeed, but for any considerable time together."

Adam Smith was strongly opposed to the kind of monopolies and cartels that form in a completely unregulated market; he considered the main purpose of government in a free market to be to enforce its competetive nature and to regulate and intervene if and when any market player attempts to prevent that competetive freedom.

Feel free to claim that's not your idea of a 'free market' (or that there are much better examples of actual anti-free market interventions like 'intellectual property' or similar monopoly supporting legislation), but (enforced) free competition is the commonly recognized meaning of the term.

Re:Craigslist kills newspapers. So fucking what? (1)

IndieRockLance (963593) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808730)

That was a nice rant and all, but it was so completely off base that I'm not sure where to start. The comparison to cars taking over for horse and buggy transportation is absurd at best and an idiotic thing to bring up in this context. Newspapers don't exist (aside from free papers dedicated to car sales and whatnot) as printed trading posts. They exist to deliver news. This isn't one mode of transportation evolving because of technology, this is having a source of revenue taken away which supports the real goal of the industry. And what's this nonsense about "moving out of the market?" Most towns only have one newspaper, even in large cities like Nashville, and local papers are the ones that are hurt by online ad placement, not national scale papers like the New York Times or the Washington Post. Are you suggesting that these struggling newspapers just fold up and move elsewhere, leaving towns with no local newspaper at all? Subscriptions have NEVER been the only source of income. The economic model for print journalism is based off of two main tenants: subscription rates and advertising sales. With that, subscription rates tend to be a very low percentage of the revenue taken in with advertisements (both classifieds and businesses) being very high. There are typically online components, but because that economic model hasn't been firmly established, the advertising rates aren't nearly as dependable. People read the local newspapers to find out about what's going on in their own community, and you can't just got to "any news site" to get that information. Keeping with the example of Nashville, if I wanted to read in-depth stories about things going on in my community there is no other option for in-depth stories than the Tennessean. Keep in mind that local TV news is a completely different monster and tends to offer very limited coverage in the form of minute and a half packages. I may be a poor, ignorant neoluddite, but at least I can see more than three inches in front of my face.

Re:Craigslist kills newspapers. So fucking what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21808990)

The comparison to cars taking over for horse and buggy transportation is absurd at best and an idiotic thing to bring up in this context. Newspapers don't exist (aside from free papers dedicated to car sales and whatnot) as printed trading posts.
Actually, it's a directional-advancement example and it's pretty accurate. Craigslist is a direct-advancement of advertising from printed media to digital media in the same way a motorized car was a direct advancement of transportation from horse-drawn buggies.

While it is true that Craigslist doesn't deliver news, it does take away from the traditional "Classifieds" ads section of the traditional newspapers and the car-example was very appropriate to that. While Craigslist (or any other personal-ad site) isn't the only factor for newspapers, personal ads are half the issue.

This isn't one mode of transportation evolving because of technology, this is having a source of revenue taken away which supports the real goal of the industry.
Oh, but it is. Just replace the word "transportation" with "news media". If Craigslist is taking away money from the traditional newspapers, then it stands to reason that the traditional newspapers need to change in order to make up for the losses. It doesn't matter how the money is being taken away. In fact, it's telling that traditional newspapers even feel threatened by Craigslist. That means that a significant portion of the subscribership used the newspapers primarily for their personal ads. If this were not true, then the subscribers would be willing to keep paying the newspapers in the same manner they were before Craigslist came about, but we can see clearly that this is not the case.

Most towns only have one newspaper, even in large cities like Nashville, and local papers are the ones that are hurt by online ad placement, not national scale papers like the New York Times or the Washington Post.
As said above, if this is true, then the local newspapers are the ones that need to adapt and change. If they are being hurt, it's because they don't provide a service that the majority of people feel is worth the while. Just because you feel it's worth it doesn't mean everyone else does. If your local newspaper is in financial trouble, then take a servey of your city; would you be surprised if your feelings were among the minority?

Are you suggesting that these struggling newspapers just fold up and move elsewhere, leaving towns with no local newspaper at all?
If this is worrisome, perhaps the goal should be to be more proactive about finding them funding? From my perspective, it seems that most people aren't all that worried about it or just aren't willing to pay the asking price for it. Perhaps, the local newspapers should reduce their costs and maybe even, dare I say it, downsize? Does the newspaper need to be delivered if just two houses on a street want it? Does the newspaper need to deliver to every house on Saturdays for free (as is the case where I live)? I think much of the costs of getting the news out there could be cut down. I think the assumption for keeping the costs high is because of the notion that "everyone needs to know"... but we don't. If I want to know about the local news, I'm content with a five-minute walk to a convenience store to pick it up. Is that really too much work for the average person for something they want?

People read the local newspapers to find out about what's going on in their own community, and you can't just got to "any news site" to get that information. Keeping with the example of Nashville, if I wanted to read in-depth stories about things going on in my community there is no other option for in-depth stories than the Tennessean.
If local news is important to the people, the people will find a way serve it.

For me, personally, my local newspaper has a free-to-view web-based version of its newspaper as does every major city I've lived in over the years. I don't care for printed papers because I have to recycle them or (I know, I'm evil) throw them in the garbage. I can get everything online that I could get in print, so why should I subscribe to the print?

Re:Craigslist kills newspapers. So fucking what? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810672)

I understand that many people base the argument like that "Newspapers offer content we like, but can only be funded by ads. Now people use craigslist for ads instead of papers, so papers have no money to publish other content with". While this may seem more indirect, I don't see why this is any more valid than the earlier example. If people are not willing to pay for the content on its own (via newspaper sales), then maybe you should move out of the market, or actually make your content worthwhile.
The danger is that that's exactly what will happen: high-quality newspapers will "move out of the market." For instance, I live in LA, and subscribe to both the LA Times and the NY Times. Their content is worthwhile to me, but that doesn't guarantee that they'll continue to stay in business, because plenty of people are happy getting their predigested, dumbed-down news from the TV. The LA Times has traditionally been one of the best papers in the U.S., but has gone through some very tough times, and morale in the newsroom has been sinking, according to someone I know who works there. The paper was just bought by a real-estate mogul named Sam Zell. He's announced that he thinks the paper "lectures" its readers too much, and that they "don't like that." In other words, he wants to dumb down the content. The deal also put the paper heavily in debt, and there's serious doubt as to whether its revenues will ever be able to pay off the debt. In other words, one of the U.S.'s best papers could end up going out of business.

I'm a libertarian, so in general I'm in sympathy with your free-market approach. But that doesn't mean that the free market always has a single, predetermined outcome, which is the best possible outcome.

One possibility that seems reasonable to me would be if e-ink technology eventually got good enough that it would be just as pleasurable to read my paper electronically while drinking my morning coffee as it currently is to read it on paper. Maybe that could save a lot of money on the costs of paper, printing, and delivery, and make newspapers more profitable.

Another possibility is that we'll become a nation in which the only source of news is the TV, in which case all I can say is Heaven help the republic.

one big reason why craigslist is successful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21808306)

Ironically, its because they change so slowly. They don't make over their site once a year the way most successful sites do, adding bloat and red tape and/or jettisoning or resetting community forums in the process.

Now, this approach probably won't work for newspapers trying to compete with craigslist. They'll have to be a lot more creative and aggressive than they've been.

Re:one big reason why craigslist is successful (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808622)

All you're saying (and I agree with you) is that Craigslist found something that worked, and has been conservative in making gratuitous changes. Now that's smart, because it serves to keep giving people what they want, rather than forcing them to continually adapt to a changing product. When you do that, you give them a reason to find an alternative that they might like more.

Some people like the fact that every time they go to their favorite site it's something new and different ... and some people don't.

High tech everywhere (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21808308)

but still people can't tell the possessive ITS from the contraction IT'S==IT IS.

Re:High tech everywhere (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808676)

Yea, I don't get it. It's simple to distinguish "its" and "it's" as it's merely a matter of expanding "it's" into its full meaning. Then you see "its" is not "it is" as it isn't supposed to be expaned as "it's" is. "It's" does of course expand to "it is" so its usage is as "it is" and not as a possesive "it", as it isn't "it"'s meaning.

Re:High tech everywhere (1)

sauge (930823) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809564)

i dnt cre Typed From My Phone

Re:High tech everywhere (1)

SilverAlicorn (986453) | more than 6 years ago | (#21811246)

Perhaps you are mistaking the lack of a well-made, intuitive writing system for a lack of intelligence in the populace.

Re:High tech everywhere (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21813252)

Grammar nazis are so insecure they have to seize every perceived advantage.

Labor options for the individuals, not the masses (2)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808314)

Newspapers still have a virtual monopoly on one aspect of newsmaking: digging deep, traveling, researching, and fact-checking. Unfortunately, MOST newspapers are just regurgitators of whatever the AP or other news-wires spend big bucks to write. The days of the old traveling reporter seem to be short, but there are still a few out there who really work hard to get the news.

The Internet, on the other hand, is still a beacon of opinion, without much digging. Facts aren't checked (not that all mainstream press outlet do much of that), biases are obvious, and many bloggers just preach to the choir. That's an area that isn't likely to change.

The big item of interest, though, is always financial: "Can I do this, and can I make money at it?" I think the obvious answer for almost all forms of media is: YES, and more of a yes than any time in the past. For two generations, musicians tended to only make money when they were corporately owned. Now, individual groups can make money just by promoting themselves and their tours online. The same is true with journalism, or even movie making. Heck, the Ron Paul girl has made five figures just taking her clothes off and promoting the candidate. Amazing. Soon, we'll see theatre and acting groups rendering their own sitcoms on YouTube for a small profit, but they still won't have the backend that the mainstream companies do: script-writers, fact-checkers, editors, sound people, crew, etc.

I like the new age, because it does open up options for the individual to earn a living. I know quite a few people who now make almost 6-figures annual blogging (but they're working 50-60 hours a week on their sites!). I know more than one band who is making more than 6-figures annual with no record label contract. I know a graphic designer or two who are making a decent living by drawing cartoon characters for individual companies, churches and organizations and not having to "slave" 40 hours a week for Disney or another employer.

I do think the classifieds HAVE to go away, but I don't think Craigslist is necessarily the answer or the final option. The web will likely move to a more object-oriented fashion, rather than purely single HTML endlinks. I've always theorized that particular web pages will be broken down to segments of information, designated with content variables ("tags"), that will be easily integrated into the desktop sites of others. I know Microsoft tried this eons ago, and it failed, but the web wasn't ready.

Why should I post an ad to craiglist for a 2001 Toro lawnmower for sale in zip code 60031, when I can just pop in an object into my MySpace, or my blog, or another site, signifying an object for-sale, the price, the zip code, etc, and allow Google or other search engines to point interested buyers to that particular object? Maybe we'll have sites that integrate all those similar objects into a mash-up of information to utilize for other people's needs (like we're now seeing with websites that mash-up data from various non-similar sites of data).

The answer in the long-run is not another market or company that takes over information disperal, but the individualization of data in an object form for many individuals or organizations to provide for new markets to develop. A personal blog may be composed of 20 individual objects, all with their own tags, all distributable in their own singular nature to be re-displayed on various sites for whatever purpose.

Methinks HTML is dying, fast. Even the Web 2.0 stuff seems to be ready for extinction. A new day, a new web, will really harm the Web 2.0 companies that are still focusing on the page, instead of breaking down the individual content within the page.

Re:Labor options for the individuals, not the mass (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808422)

Newspapers still have a virtual monopoly on one aspect of newsmaking: digging deep, traveling, researching, and fact-checking.


I call shenagains on that. Have you read any science or technology articles recently? Most reporters don't know much about any specilized fields, and couldn't be bothered to ask anyone who does actually know.

Re:Labor options for the individuals, not the mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21808798)

Did you even bother to read beyond the first line before commenting?

Re:Labor options for the individuals, not the mass (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808470)

No. What's killing newspapers is not craigslist.

It's the fact that they've been bought out by non-newsmen bean counters
that see a newspaper as just another business rather than an end to itself.
They have stopped "selling" news and are instead just selling ad space.

The era of the "investigative reporter" are pretty much over. The
typical newspaper story doesn't have any more inherent value than
the average blog post. Everyone knows it. THIS is why newspapers
are in danger of extinction. They have pretty much all abandoned
their key value.

Hook some magnets up to Murrow and he could power manhattan.

Re:Labor options for the individuals, not the mass (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809012)

Mod parent insightful. Great post.

I agree wholeheartedly. Craigslist is not the answer, it's just an electronic version of the old model. Less than the old model in fact. At least with a newspaper there's news or comics or some reason to view it every day. There's no reason to visit Craigslist unless you are looking for something.

However, the fundamental problem with Craigslist is the scams, and their flagging system. I find it curious to see this article talk about how they are expanding into Europe. Craigslist has had sites in EU countries for along time, however they are worthless due to the failure of the flagging system. Lots of scams listed -> not enough site visitors to remove the scams -> more scams -> less site visitors -- as all anyone sees are the scams and have no reason to hang around.

In some cases there might be language issues. However, Craigslist UK doesn't have that issue. While it does have 1,000s of listings, almost all of them are scams. Thus no-one is using the site. There's no risk to UK newspapers from Craigslist. None at all.

It's been said here before, and it needs said again until search improves, the ONLY reason sites like Criagslist and eBay etc etc exist is because search is still failing to deliver quality results on a local level. Google, please take note. Google's competitors, work harder -- much harder. There's been no significant advances in search technology for 10 years. That is not good. Not good enough.

Re:Labor options for the individuals, not the mass (1)

boyko.at.netqos (1024767) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812320)

Yes, you can talk about how newspapers are dying because of bad reporting, but I think that it has more to do with the fact that people are less likely to be interested in the news.

If you actually look at trends in news consumption, they've remained in a rather steady downward trend - even when you add in news consumption among ALL media. Which means that the Internet is taking another slice of an already shrinking pie for newspapers.

There are a number of complicated and interrelated reasons for this.

Let me run down my theories:

Theory One: People are not seeing the utility of the news.

If you believe that being well informed about current events is important to your job, your society, or your family, you will be well informed. Fewer people, however, believe this is so. The biggest culprit here is the insulation of public officials from public pressure. It seems that the elected officials can get away with just about anything and there "ain't a damn thing we can do about it." This leads to decreased news consumption. In previous environments, if you didn't like what was going on in politics, you could protest and at the very least, have a chance for those protests to be heard. If you didn't like what was going on in business you could ask your congressman to start an investigation. But people now feel that these actions are non-productive and at best counterproductive because both politicians and business owners have insulated themselves from public pressure. I won't go into how - that's a discussion in and of itself - but between safe seats, redistricting, partisan media sources, gullible reporters, and the broken labor movement, people feel that because there is nothing they can do about the bad stuff they learn about in the newspaper, then learning about the bad stuff would just make them miserable.

Theory Two: People are not connected to their communities.

Can you name your neighbors? Most people can't. America's sense of community - local community - is broken. This is the subject of Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone" - for the past 30 years, we've been less likely to make friends, and to do things in groups. This is true of everything from political organization to bowling leagues. We have little "social capital" and we simply care less about what happens to our neighbors because we don't know our neighbors faces.

Putnam said there were many factors but the clearest correlation that he could see was the amount of television consumption.

Theory Three: The commerce clause...

One of the reasons for saying that people are insulated from public opinion is because more and more of the important decisions are being made in federal, not state, governments. Granted, I agree that without a strong federal government we wouldn't have things like desegregation, but it's a double-edged sword. The people of California want medical marijuana decriminalization, the federal government wants to interfere with that. People, quite rightly, believe they have more of an influence over the state governments than they do over the local governments - but if the state governments themselves have less influence...

Theory Four: The news just sucks

The idea is that if the news were better at reporting, their would be less insulation of public officials from public opinion. Instead, Britany Spears' sister being pregnant knocks out stories on the CIA withholding information from the 9/11 commission.

This is mostly because, as the original author noted, good reporting costs money, but advertising brings in the same amount of money no matter what you put on the page. Fluff is cheap.

I don't disagree with it, but I do think there's more to it than that. If good, investigative reporting was salable, Harpers and the New Yorker would be in everyone's mailbox; not in the mailbox of the few people who seem to crave hard-hitting reporting.

So, it's a complicated problem.

-- Brian Boyko
-- M.A. Journalism, U.Texas-Austin, 2005

Who uses craigslist? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21808400)

I think "killing newspapers" is a bit of a stretch. It's not like college students regularly read newspapers before craigslist, and there isn't much reason to believe craigslist is used by a wider audience than that.

Re:Who uses craigslist? (1)

Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808812)

My 50 year old parents use craigslist list to find things, though I'm not sure if they would ever post. The problem is that those "college students" won't always be college students. They grow up, and usually subscribe to a paper. Now they won't, which means less viewers. There are also less local advertisers thanks to craigslist. How many of those college students are working their way through school? The majority of waiting jobs my friends have found have been from the site - local employers have found a way to attract more candidates without paying a cent. Both of which means that adds cost now less to place - and really, add money is what makes the paper run. They only charge the 50 cents because people don't value free things.

So what? (5, Insightful)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808454)

So what if the Craigslist IS killing the newspaper industry? I don't see anyone getting up in arms about the automobile killing the horse drawn carriage industry.

Times change. Business models face extinction just as species do.

in other news (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808512)

Henry Ford denies that the mass produced automobile is killing the buggy whip industry. He says that lack of innovation and bloat is causing the industry to expire. To quote "If buggy whip makers would cater to the niche needs of their customers, and sell at a reasonable price, the manufacturers would have no trouble selling to the ever growing modern horse driven buggy market."

Problem with newspapers is the loss of the local.. (3, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808598)

Reporters. I watched the local paper, the St. Louis Post Distpatch, go steadily down hill over the past few years. Every year it got thinner and thinner to the point where all it was good for was the local sports report. Last year, my father dropped his subscription. Especially when he finally got high speed internet and realized the articles he wanted was on their website STLToday.

All the paper consisted of was were wire reports. Usually the exact same content I had read via Yahoo or Cnn.com the day before. There was very little local investigative journalism. They did a 5-part expose on the local fire districts and some stuff that was going on there with the wives of firefighters being elected to boards/etc. Back in 2005. But not much since.

I forget the lady's name (The old woman in front row of the White House daily briefings (Helen something). She wrote a book about this topic a few years ago and she pointed out that it was this lack of in depth local news reporting was the major reason why newspapers were loosing so much readership. Her reason is that hiring investigative reports and having a real news room is expensive. So in order to boost short term profits....

This boils down to one thing: Content. You have good content, people will come. It doesn't matter if that is on the web or in print.

Problem with Slashdot is the posters who start... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21809164)

Their posts in the subject and continue them in the body.

Re:Problem with newspapers is the loss of the loca (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810356)

(The old woman in front row of the White House daily briefings (Helen something)
Helen Thomas. Wiki [wikipedia.org] and Google [google.com] .

The fact I know her name is proof that I have no life. :(

Re:Problem with newspapers is the loss of the loca (1)

IKILLEDTROTSKY (1197753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810704)

I was Waiting for sombody to say this! it's the lack of content to maintain grossly high profit margins that is killing the papers. I have seen a rapid growth of papers that focus ONLY on the local news and editorials on national events. They now as well, as everybody else, your reading CNN about floods in china, it's the stuff you can't find, like wine tastings, rock concerts, and D.A. coruption where the monyes at tomarrow, and the media be it blogs or paper isn't the deal breacker. It's selling people information they can't get on their own, so the journalist goes out and gets it. That is the industry, not all this hype about blogs and news, it's making a product and selling it.

Old Media has manufactured the conditions (3, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808738)

for their own downfall.

Radio has been killed by ClearChannel's near total monopoly of the airwaves. Yes, they no longer have competition in radio, but they've ended the diversity held the audience's attention, and pushed commercials up to the point where you have to wade through 10 minutes of used-car ads to get to the 4 minutes of bland commercial pop.

Newspapers, meanwhile, stopped doing real journalism 15 years ago. It's much easier to pay a fee for AP articles and an editor to arrange them on a page around ad space than to keep on a staff of journalists doing in-depth investigative pieces; heck, it's even cheaper to change a couple words in the press releases companies send to newspapers these days and print them verbatim than to license AP articles--that's what more and more "news" outlets are doing these days.

TV, well, reality programs are boring, and commercials are annoying, and the few programs worth watching are in endless re-runs thanks to the writer's strike; or, the movies they run on cable are just promotional vehicles for the sequels that are coincidentally debuting next Friday.

Movies and music. /. readers know that story so I won't regurgitate it.

In short, greed, corporatism (is that redundant with greed?), and focus group-tested pap that the old media have pumped out in the last decade to maximize profits has alienated the audience. Craigslist and other segments of the Internet are simply doing a better job of taking over the few useful activities the old used to perform, but without all the baggage.

Everyone on /. knows this. The interesting thing will be to observe what happens when Craigslist and its cohorts sell out to the same corporate interests for the big score and start degrading the content. Will new challengers spring up online to steal their lunch in the same manner?

Re:Old Media has manufactured the conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21808794)

Will new challengers spring up online to steal their lunch in the same manner?
yes, no, maybe, whocares, mmmlunch (tagging beta)

Surprisingly the summary is right. (1)

thatblackguy (1132805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808760)

Just earlier today I was thinking wtf are the editors doing missing obvious mistakes in that math article but I don't get what the furore is here. It's supposed to be "it's" in the summary not its! How the hell did this even get tagged "its" ? Note: Quotation marks used for clarity instead of '.

Re:Surprisingly the summary is right. (1)

phozz bare (720522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808872)

"it's growth over the years" should be its.

Re:Surprisingly the summary is right. (1)

gwoodrow (753388) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808922)

Actually, I think the summary is wrong.

"Computerworld has an interview with Craig Newmark about the history of Craigslist and it's growth over the years"

=

"Computerworld has an interview with Craig Newmark about the history of Craigslist and it is growth over the years"

I'm not normally a grammar nazi, but if someone's going to openly defend the error I just can't resist. It's (as in it is) a weakness.

I hope so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21808832)

The newspapers in my city (Vancouver, BC, Canada) are sooooo shitty. They are produced by the same company and their editorials are dictated by the company's head office which is thousands of miles away.

They don't give a care about the people, only the advertisers. Their current editorial actually says that you are a bad person if you don't go out and shop on Boxing day!

cant think of anything to say (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808842)

i just hope the cost of bird cage liner does not go up...

Re:cant think of anything to say (1)

Randwulf (997659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812288)

How about saying, "You can't wrap fish in Craigslist." :-)

Horse-drawn carriage replaces cars; no-one minds (3, Interesting)

bonaldi (90129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808850)

There are a lot of people pretty chuffed with their horse-and-carriage-beaten-by-car analogy; nobody seems to notice that the replacement isn't better, it's *worse*. As a newspaper, Craiglist sucks. But it has taken over one of the key ways newspapers make money.

It's not a straightforward "outdated business model" this: the model's been outdated since the radio came along. Nobody needs to buy news: we're drowning in free news. But we do need to live in a society where politicians and the powerful are held to account, where corruption is exposed and so on. The best way we've seen so far for doing this is investigative journalism, which isn't cheap. In fact, journalism is incredibly expensive to create. There isn't a single newspaper website out there that can afford to pay for the cost of its journalism by itself; they rely on subsidy from their print operations.

A Free Press isn't free. It has just been our luck that newspapers could make enough money from small ads to pay for all the journalists without actually having to try and sell us the unsellable (news). That luck is running out.

Auto Trader, my ass (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21808852)

LOL, he blames Auto Trader, but Craigslist has already killed the private listings in Auto Trader.

Re:Auto Trader, my ass (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809406)

So... Auto Trader killed Newspaper, and Craig's List killed Auto Trader. duh! :-P

Re:Auto Trader, my ass (1)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810802)

Hardly, Auto Trader was too damned expensive to be competition for the newspapers. The newspaper classifieds were getting beaten up by the "Nickel Ad" free papers. Ebay came along and threatened them all, but it was Craiglist really laid the smackdown. But we're just talking about the classifieds anyway, which is only a small part of why newspapers are dying.

Mass media is obsolete (2)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809112)

Traditional mass media is obsolete. Were the internet a simple issue of distribution, then, newspapers would simply be the same thing, but cheaper. What's happened is that people are interested in their own niches of information, and mass media simply can't get its head around it. All of the sifting through events that reporters and editors used to do, the internet makes pointless. Because there is essentially infinite bandwidth, you don't need someone to decide what news is worth actually distributing. Now, it all can be distributed.

You can get in depth knowledge on any topic. The odd review about a car or a movie in the paper just can't cut it compared to the in depth information you get from a direct source. Why go to the Philadelphia Inquirer car section or computer section when I can go to not just one, but any number of computer or car web sites. About all that newspapers are good for are sports columnists, and even they have made a transition to online or, gasp, radio talk shows. On the other end of the scale, a lot of information reporters get comes from 3rd hand sources, such as the AP Wires, and now, you can get the same article online.

You can get any information you want. If you want to find out what is going on in Switzerland, you can go to a web site in Switzerland and read it. If you want to find out what's going on in politics, you don't have to be aggravated that your political view isn't represented in the media. On the internet, all views are.

You can find anyone to agree with you. Newspapers and broadcast media needed to foster the notion that there was a mainstream of opinion, a sweet spot or common ground for everyone. Reality is a lot more complex and we're finding that there's no such thing as mainstream. There's a lot of people online, and, on any given topic, you can find someone that agrees with you. You don't have to believe you are an outcast, when you have 30,000 people that form their own online community. If someone else calls me a crackpot for wanting to pave the earth, I can find someone to agree with me.

This trend isn't going to affect just newspapers and broadcast media. They are just the first pickings. In the future, every traditional role of knowledge acquisition and distribution will be upended by the democratizing influence of the internet. At some point, as search tools get better, and communications improves, there won't even be a need for a specialized formal education. We are moving towards, truly, the world of the matrix, where if we want to learn to fly a helicopter, we'll find it on google.

Having worked for a newspaper for 25 years... (2, Insightful)

iamwhatiseem (554133) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809132)

The articles is absolutely correct when it states newspapers are killing themselves, which is why I left 4 years ago. Publishers know that the profit margins of old are long gone, however their response to that is what is causing it's greatest harm - an insatiable appetite to reduce expenses...rather than an expansion into other services to grow revenue. Newspaper publishers and owners are the most pessimistic people on the planet. Their favorite, and most often decision-making process is the "decision to make no decision" - thus, their unwillingness to change with the times will leave them buried in the past.

Newspaper Profit Model Fucked Up (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809246)

People have been saying the same thing about printed books for year, but it hasn't come to pass.

The thing is, most of the people who say these things are the highly connected tech savvy who generally socialize with their own kind. The rest of the population is perfectly happy with newspapers.

The main problem with newspapers is than like most businesses these days, ,i.their stockholders / owners demand exponential profit growth. It's not the medium that is unsustainable, it's the profit model they insist on.

But you must excuse me, I had chili for breakfast. I'm off to the bathroom with my newspaper...

Re:Newspaper Profit Model Fucked Up (1)

Not The Real Me (538784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810394)

...most of the people who say these things are the highly connected tech savvy who generally socialize with their own kind. The rest of the population is perfectly happy with newspapers...

That sums up what I have seen. The tech savvy get their news from the web. The rest of the world continues to rely on print media.

I cancelled Monday to Saturday newspaper service because there is almost no original news in the newspaper (Los Angeles Times). The news that is printed is a refactoring of wire service (AP, UPI, Reuters, KRT, AFP) stories. Once the refactored wire service articles are eliminated, the remaining content reads more like an infomercial than news.

When I used to work for the L.A. Times, and we'd have our regular department level meetings, the usual topics were: profit margins, who has the highest net operating income, and which sales person had the best performance.

Newspapers, much like record companies, are not going to disappear. Newspapers, much like record labels, are experiencing a decline in revenue because they are putting out a mediocre product. Newspapers need to get back to their muckraking, yellow journalism roots, and start asking some tough questions instead of playing softball.

Give me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21809498)

If the newspapers give me quality searchable classifieds that include great random free stuff, then I might start using them again. I don't get that from the local papers.

Craigslist gives us a great way to communicate about free items. Items one person doesn't want that may have use to another person. It's a great way to keep things from going to the dumps. It's my main use for Craigslist.

It's "its"... (1)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809504)

...not "it's" when you're showing possession. For example "It's Christmas Eve!" as opposed to something like "Christmas Eve is here in all its glory".

Translation: (1)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 6 years ago | (#21809524)

News flash! News media goes to hell! News at 11! Film at 12!

Who cares? (1)

Cobble (1116971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810310)

Save a tree. Read your news online.

Associated Press (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810420)

It seems as though the AP has had its role in killing newspapers as well. If your newspaper buys and reprints stories from the AP, it's equivalent to outsourcing your hard-hitting, incisive, investigative journalism. I read a long time ago in a post here that AP stories without name attribution aren't very well researched. If they were quality stories, people wouldn't mind putting their names to them. So it seems to me that if you're looking for investigative journalists and reading AP stories, look for names, and look for names that you've seen many times. That doesn't help the local scene, but talent has to go where it's valued.

Ministry of Truth (1)

Cobble (1116971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21810576)

The last good reason to keep newspapers around is that the news can't be revised. Once it goes to print, that's it. You can't go back and say "Oh, we never said invading Iraq was about WMD. It was about installing democracy. Oh we never said it was about installing democracy. It was about bringing the war to the terrorists. Oh, we never said that...

The papers killed themselves if yo ask me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21811342)

To put a little context here I use to read the paper every day almost every page. Today I'm lucky to pick up the Sunday paper.

The thing was I started to cut back on paper reading long before I became internet addicted. The issues with the paper started when the editorial became to far left of center, and in depth local coverage went out the door. Now I often skip the daily paper except on Wednesday and that to find out what is happening around town for the weekend. Even the local weekend scene could be take care of with a tablet PC of the right type, as everything of interest has a web site.

The interesting thing with the tablet desire is that somethings just are easier to peruse away from home. Thus if I'm taking lunch at a local establishment I might read the paper, if a tablet is as easy to carry as a paper came along I'd likely switch to only that. Things like the iPhone are real close to being just the nuts, but the screen is to damn small (+45 years old).

So what I'm trying to say is that the future of the daily newspaper looks rather dim. Especially if they can't get the editorial quality up. Well that and cover local stuff with a little conviction.

The funny thing is there is a very small weekly publication in the near buy city that seems to flourish and they don't even charge for a copy. Again a little left reading but far more balanced especialy with respect to editorial and the willingness to print commentary that doesn't match the papers left leaning slant. In other words I can't always agree with the paper but I can at least respect them for putting in a good effort.

I Guess in a nut shell that sums it up, people have lost respect for the papers and their business model.

Dave

Newspapers == bundled cable channels... (1)

knorthern knight (513660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21811440)

...and websites == a la carte

Bundled cable channels force people to pay for channels that they don't want, in order to get the few channels they do want. Under the a la carte system, people pay only for what they're interested in, and the low-interest channels die a natural death.

Newspapers bundle local news, national news, world news, sports, stock market info, classified ads, comics, crossword puzzles, etc, etc. They charge a humoungous markup on their classified ads, and use that excess revenue to pay for reporters.

If I'm only interested in sports in general, I can go to a sports site. If I'm interested in world news, I can go to a zillion web sites. For comics, try Dilbert.com, for classified try Craigslist, etc, etc. Note that Craigslist is not supporting a bunch of investigative reporters, and unionized pressmen pull down humoungous wages, thanks to fat-cat union contracts. It does take a few salaries for techies, and servers, and bandwidth, but with a free db (MySQL or PostgreSQL) you can set up a classified service for a much lower cost than how a newspaper does it.

Just like low-interest channels die when not forcibly bundled with popular channels, so too will investigative reporting die when not forcibly bundled with moneymaking services like classifieds an full-page ads for cars or computers. However, when a newspaper's existance depends on fullpage ads from car manufacturers, do you really expect muck-raking exposes about unsafe or easy-to-steal cars? That is on aspect where citizen-bloggers are better than staff reporters. Their articles can't be threatened by an advertiser pulling its ads. Yes, SLAPP suits are possible, but they can backfire with Streisand-effect backlash.

newspapers and web (1)

chrisranjana.com (630682) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812238)

I for one believe that web and newspapers are totally independent and they should rather compliment each other than fight with each other

Weeklies (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21812258)

Really what the effect Craigslist is having is on the free Weeklies. These papers are free, and exist on print ad and classified ad revenues. These papers are often times the only reliable and trustworthy source of independent information in any given market. I live here in Idaho and I am an avid reader of Boise Weekly. Before that I read Willamette Weekly in Oregon. I've noticed that the weeklies have taken a few shots at craigslist over the years, but nothing serious, more voicing of concerns than anything else. And yes they still keep papers shipping. But it's a shame to see an outfit have to struggle so hard to get information out to the people. But then again, if the people don't want anything but the recycled drivel that spews forth from their picture boxes and news(ad)papers... Support your Weeklies!
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