Craigslist Founder Gives $20 Million to CUNY Journalism School

Craigslist Founder Gives $20 Million to CUNY Journalism School

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In addition to his CUNY gift, Mr. Newmark has made major donations to other institutions devoted to journalism: $1 million to ProPublica; $500,000 to Columbia Journalism Review; $1 million to Data & Society, a research institute; and over $560,000 to the International Center for Journalists.

“Sometimes rich people want to do fancy stuff in terms of endowments: Ivy League schools, the opera, the ballet,” Mr. Newmark said. “Me? I want to help out people who, much like me, really needed a hand. If you’re lucky enough to do well, then I feel the right thing is to give people a hand, and the best way for me to do that is to help out journalism.”

But Mr. Newmark’s reputation in the journalism industry hasn’t been the most positive. Craigslist, which he founded in the mid-1990s, put a dent in newspaper classified ads — a trusty generator of revenue in more print-centric times — and is often blamed, in part, for the industry’s revenue decline.

According to a 2012 study by Robert Seamans, an associate professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and Feng Zhu, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, Craigslist forced the newspaper industry to change its business model.

“Based on the research we did, there’s no question that Craigslist’s entry had a big effect on the newspaper industry,” Mr. Seamans said. “The effect was the change in the way newspapers run their business. What we find is that, as Craigslist is entering different markets at different points in time, newspapers are shifting away from the classifieds ads model.”

Mr. Seamans and Mr. Zhu found that newspapers lost about $5 billion in classifieds revenue to Craigslist from 2000 to 2007.

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