Howard Rheingold: Craig Newmark on Digital Journalism

In this short 4min videolog, Howard Rheingold shares what Craig Newmark has to say about the philosophy behind Craigslist, the quantity of users vs. abusers in a free market system, and the difference between journalists and bloggers (pressure of revenue, burden of fact checking). For a web service that has a mere 25 staff members handling 10 billion page views per month, that’s pretty mindblowing.

Howard Rheingold, a cyberculturalist most recognized for his seminal book, The Virtual Community (1993), teaches a Digital Journalism course at Stanford University.

He recently invited Craig Newmark, creator of the popular yet non-commercially oriented Craigslist.org, as a guest speaker for his class. Available for most cities, Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free classified advertisements and forums on various topics. Since Craigslist is a free web service, it has pretty much killed the newspaper classified ads industry. Newspaper publishers are forced to adapt in order to generate new revenue streams.

This situation goes inline with what Mark Deuze had mentioned through his book and guest lectures on the precariousness of the media industry (video included). Mark presented his finding that jobs the media industry are as “precarious”, offering little stability compared to other industries (e.g. no contracts). In part due to competition from creativity being publicly crowdsourced, thereby undermining the creative profession.

Mark also cites interview data which shows how the media industry is very much a cultural industry where productivity is going up, while the number of employees is going down. Other industries, such as manufacturing, are learning from how the creative industry achieves this, because that formula is literally a gold mine for business. It obviously hurts society as a whole. Evidence can be seen from the layoffs in the newspaper industry; The New York Times was said to be eliminating about 100 newsroom jobs over the course of this year, according to an article they published on 14th Feb 2008.

For more, visit Howard Rheingold Vlog or subscribe to it here.

3 thoughts on “Howard Rheingold: Craig Newmark on Digital Journalism

  1. very interesting insights, ‘specially from Craig about the need for more investigative journalists.

    i definitely do see the scales in the need for more content producers to service our increasingly fragmented marketplace and audiences, but can the costs justify all that?

    i wish it did

  2. @Brian: 1) The thoroughness of an investigative journalist would differentiate him / her from the typical blogger. 2) Regarding content production, notice a taste developing for the cheap, fast and funny? I’m referring to memes, so perhaps what content producers need to do is work on several small pieces, than a few big one.

  3. @kevin
    1) of which i see journalists needing to fast track their learning curve of producing fast, timely and accurate news.. newspapers need to reclaim their authority as credible sources wherever they are, and perhaps also, working with bloggers. in a sense, they’re in the best position to be full-time bloggers.
    2) i think there’s a place for great big professional projects for production houses that can deliver. there is still a high demand for the high quality entertainment that comes out from large production houses, and an even higher demand for the global audience. who hasn’t watched heroes? in that regard, studios need to change their vertical strategies and actually re-examine their broadcast licenses and put FTA television on a global streaming level. isn’t that what CNN always wanted? – and then advertising models would not have changed again.

    my main concerns in all this is our increasingly fragmented media landscape. is there room for mass broadcasting again?

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