Happy Hour With Craig Newmark

Photo Credit: Mediashift

It was after work at an East Village bar, and everybody wanted to pitch to Craig Newmark.

The founder of Craigslist, was one of the more famous names at a happy hour thrown by MediaShift, a PBS-affiliated blog. The mixer was the unofficial kick-off for the WE Media Conference with the theme “This Time it’s Personal”.

As Vampire Weekend segued into Iron & Wine, Mr. Newmark spent the evening catching up with people and politely responding to pitches by app-happy entrepreneurs – something he says he has gotten used to.

“It does happen a great deal. When I see something I understand and looks good I try to get the word out,” said Mr. Newmark.

However, Mr. Newmark was more eager to talk about the site he launched in March, CraigConnects, which is a Craigslist for non-profit causes. Among the seven categories of non-profits he supports on the site, one of the most notable is “journalistic integrity.”

Many in the newspaper business who view Craigslist as one of the main factors contributing to the demise of print may be surprised by the high value Mr. Newmark says he places in news.

“A democracy relies on a vigorous press to survive. I know what I want to pay for, and in conversation and writing I find the common denominator is that people are interested in paying for news that they can trust,” said Mr. Newmark.

Those who don’t buy Craig Newmark as newspaper champion may be less surprised to learn that he is a big fan of Arianna Huffington.

“Huffington Post was doing important work before but with the merger – well, I have a lot of confidence in Arianna,” said Mr. Newmark. “I do some blogging for Huffington Post, but writing is hard so I generally leave it to professionals.”

As for the question of whether Craigslist killed the newspaper business, Mr. Newmark pointed to other problems in the industry.

“I’m not in the news business but what people in the news business tell me is that newspapers have had much bigger problems than us,” he said. So much for journalistic integrity.

Happy Hour With Craig Newmark