Had a chance to spend a few minutes with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, tonight, and afterwards heard him on a panel at a conference tonight in
Newmark says that blogs “repeat work that other people have done” ? “I do a little of it in a half-assed way. There’s no substitute for reporting. There’s no substitute for professional journalism.”
Sometimes, he says, bloggers “publish first and maybe fact-check later. A little more professionalism is needed there.”
He sees part of his role as “speaking truth to power” and he wants to “help people do that kind of work.”
As far as community journalism sites such as Digg or “wiki”-type sites, he says that he “believes pretty passionately that if you get enough people looking at something, they make good decisions, [although] you need some controls. What we’re talking about is democracy. It’s not the best of all systems. It has many flaws, but it works pretty well.
“We’ve always existed in a sea of information, news, and entertainment all smeared together,” which has been true, he says, since the ancient Romans. “The amount has changed, density has changed, speed has changed, but it’s not new.”
Newmark says the older generation would be well-served to get more news-information-entertainment from sources that are often popular among younger people, such as the Colbert Report.
Newmark says he has “given up trying to define community. If people feel connected, that’s a community” — whether it’s a live flea market or an online community. “Online communities are not a substitute for person-to-person communities, but it does help and it is legitimate.”
On the Future
The next big thing? He says it will be “trust and reputation systems; better legal protections for whistleblowers and journalists; and scrollable electronic ink ? unscroll newspaper from your cell phone.”
He’s optimistic about a plan by the Google “boys” (he gets them mixed up) to increase the numbers of underserved people with Internet access. Newmark says that “before you get on the ‘Net you really need clean water ? [but] the technology will bring a lot of people onto the ‘Net and the boys deserve credit.”