I shouldn\'t have to mention that the times, they are a-changin\'

Via Rad Geek, angry alternative paper guy Tim Redmond shows what a cozy part of Old Media alternative weeklies are. The target of his ire? craigslist.

craigslist [this seems to be the preferred rendering, see their Fact Sheet for more] is guilty of providing a better way to buy, sell, and trade things than classified ads in newspapers. I myself have used it several times and have never once looked to the classifieds when I wanted a new job, apartment, bike, guitar, 1970s Elvis doll suit, clump of hostas, white real sheepskin shearling jacket, or hand knitted wool rug. (Those are just random samples from today.)

A more substantial way to frame his complaint that craigslist does not actually foster community would go like this:

The problem with that is simple: When Craig comes to town (and he's coming to just about every town in the nation soon), the existing community institutions – say, the locally owned weekly newspaper – have a very hard time competing. In many ways, he's like a Wal-Mart – yeah, landlords get cheaper real estate ads, and consumers find some bargains, but the money all goes out of town. And he puts nothing back into the community: He doesn't, for example, hire reporters or serve as a community watchdog.

Just like the usual suspects in Old Media, alternative weeklies really think themselves indispensable and tied to their communities. I probably pick up a copy of Atlanta's own Creative Loafing twice a year; that's about how long it takes for me to remember that I wasn't reading it for a reason. This mystical sense of community—I don't feel it. I find the ads annoying, so I don't contribute money to the advertising businesses. I find the commentary on news and politics biased, economically deficient, and usually a waste of time, so it doesn't get me fired up to call my city council to tell them to let petty tyrannies invade my life a little more.

Meanwhile I feel like I'm more in touch with the whole network of people like me looking to buy, sell, or trade things on craigslist. They can put a lot more information on a post there than they can put in the classifieds. They can offer a lot more things than they would bother offering in the classifieds. Starting an email exchange is as easy as pie. Since the sellers usually give pretty specific locations (not too specific, unless it's for apartments or jobs) they become less anonymous, and while craiglist gets a cut, these trades increase local wealth, and they're happening all the time.

That's not even to mention that a lot of what people post on craigslist isn't for commerce. Rideshare, local events, lost and found, etc. If that doesn't foster community, I don't know what does.

I don't want to knock alternative weeklies too much. But let's not keep thinking that the way things are done now is always the best way to do them, new technology be damned.

Rad Geek's commentary is right on. Check it out.

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Randall, As a fellow


As a fellow Atlantan, I'd like to confirm that Creative Loafing kinda sucks. Instead of being upset about craigslist, I would think they would be more upset about blogging in general. The blogosphere is a new way to develop better communities with relatively low transaction costs. I'm not sure if alternative weeklies ever accomplished that task.

That said, drop me a line as a fellow Atlantan - maybe we can grab a beer.

As another fellow Atlantan,

As another fellow Atlantan, I first found Craigslist when I lived in San Jose, and used it to find a room for rent. I did the same thing down in Irvine when I lived there. Now in ATL, I've used it to sell a car, buy/sell various items, and generally check it first when I'm looking to do the same.

And considering that craigslist is free, I don't quite understand how it's "taking money out of the community"...

Anyway, why should the

Anyway, why should the community I belong to be arbitrarily defined as the number of people reached by the crappy local alternative weekly? If that's my whole community, it really, really, really needs expanding.

So is the entire city of

So is the entire city of Atlanta on Catallarchy's comment section? Sounds like an excuse to go meet at a bar or something.... umm... I guess that's called fostering 'community', huh?

Atlanta fellows, I have been

Atlanta fellows,

I have been mulling an Atlanta meeting, and it looks like you guys are forcing my hand. Post early next week on this subject...stay tuned!


You've brought up another point. People belong to a lot of communities (this might fall into that category), and don't belong to a lot that they're claimed to.

I'm such a dork. I just

I'm such a dork. I just spent like 40 minutes writting an involved e-mail rebutal to the moron who wrote the San Francisco Bay Guardian article.:bomb: