He 'Killed Newspapers,' but Now Fights for Journalism

Craig from Craigslist has a new mission
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2017 10:29 AM CDT
Craig of Craigslist Has a New Mission: Journalism
Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, in a 2009 photo.   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Craig Newmark, who started Craigslist way back in the 20th century, is a man who likes to be in the shadows. He is an observer—one of his favorite hobbies, fittingly, is birdwatching, notes a profile by Alyssa Bereznak at Ringer. He's also rather quietly amassed a fortune, and has just as quietly been giving lots of it away. His little site, after all, grew to have a global but modest presence, and took in $694 million of revenue in 2016. (He remains on its board, but no longer manages the website.) In the profile, Newmark says that back in '99, "I just decided on a different business model. ... I decided no one needs to be a billionaire. You should know when enough is enough." So he chose what he calls a "minimal" strategy, instead of trying to reach eBay-like scale. As it turns out, the 64-year-old now has a net worth of $1.3 billion.

The story points out an ironic twist: These days, Newmark throws his money into journalism, the very industry he so famously disrupted with his free classified listings. In fact, he's generally "accused of killing newspapers," writes Bereznak. Now, however, he's especially interested in preventing the spread of fake news. This may have something to do with how Craigslist was covered in 2010, when CNN found its adult services section being used for underage sex trafficking. (Newmark says he'd been working with the FBI to track criminals, for which he later won an award.) Last year, Newmark gave Poynter $1 million toward journalism ethics, and this year he gave another $1 million to ProPublica. He's especially interested in the harassment of reporters, which he says poses "real consequences for democracy." Read the full profile here. (Read more Craigslist stories.)

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