Thursday, April 23, 2009

Further Signs of the Newspaper Apocalypse: I Use Craigslist

Before I start...a note about the Journal, its employees and the future of Journal employees.

I have been somewhat critical in recent days/weeks/months of the education coverage by the Journal. I've also been whinging (D.F. Wallace is not the only person who loves[d] this word) on and on about the Journal's inability to "get" the Internet for, well, years now.

Due to my Journal Whingfest, it might seem that I have it out for the Journal's employees, and wish nothing but bad things to happen to them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The whole decline of print journalism thing saddens me, and the seeming surety that many highly intelligent, engaged journalists will/have been looking for jobs outside the field is an underemployment shame of the highest order.

I am no more against specific Journal employees than the typical APS hater is against specific teachers. When someone attacks APS I, perhaps in a helpful act of psychological self-preservation, don't consider that an attack on me. I don't really consider it an attack on teachers at all. APS is a dysfunctional bureaucratic animal to be avoided whenever possible, by students, parents and teachers alike. APS thus is like a snake on a mountain bike/hiking path. But with a broken rattle and non-functioning fangs.

And that gets us to the Journal. Like APS the Journal, in my view, has little to do with its individual employees. The overall corporate mindset there is evidently the result of years of an increasingly unworkable business model, a mindset, I'm guessing, best avoided by the individuals working there.

Like APS, the Journal certainly appears to be just about hopelessly stuck in some groupthink amber. And the amber is hardening by the second.

In this, I commiserate with individual Journal employees. On top of respecting, admiring and rooting for them.

And now, after that longer Prologue, a shorter "story".

I sold something via Craigslist.

Yes me. The guy who would, really, rather buy and sell houses strictly via email instead of actually having to ever, EVER, EVER, EVER meet a real estate agent or potential seller/buyer. Someone who has accrued massive piles of largely useless, but salable junk over the years, but would rather have a garage too full to park his car than have a garage sale. Who cringes at the words "garage sale" in the same way gregarious people cringe at words like "being alone" and "being without my cell phone at the supermarket and thus unable to find out what brand of bottled spaghetti sauce my significant other prefers while others try to sneak in and grab a box of multi-grain penne pasta right in front of me while I say, scream really, 'marinara or mushroom, marinara or mushroom!?!' into the phone".

A guy (remember not the person in the overly long supermarket example above) who will never have a cell phone (despite working in the public schools...the last bastion of workplaces with no phones in the workers' offices), who will never use Facebook, MySpace or any other "social networking" site, will never Twitter and will, quite obviously, spend significant time yelling at kids to get off his lawn for the rest of his increasingly aged life.

So this something using Craigslist.

I sold a pair of ridiculously mislabeled bike shorts (for those who don't already know, sizes like "large" in bike shorts are for people who normally wear "small"; I cannot imagine exactly who the bike short "small" is designed for) to some very nice guy who responded to my ad. The gentleman and I emailed back and forth several times, but eventually I had to meet the dude face-to-face, and via a quick, almost crack cocaine deal quickness, transaction I had twenty bucks and he had a pair of bike shorts designed for a skinny person.

I know for many readers of a "blog" the story being told above seems pointlessly ancient. Like I should immediately go from there to a wild-eyed report about finding some free music via this kooky "peer-to-peer" service called "Napster". And I realize I'm about the forty billionth person to the Criagslist party.

But if I, Mr. Selling Agoraphobe, start using Craigslist, then it truly is all over for the traditional media community swapshop. I'm one of the very last dominoes in the assured destruction of print media. I'm just about the very last canary in the gas-filled coalmine shaft of newspapers.

And not because I "have" some silly blog. Sure as Hell not because of that.

P.S.: Does the "Thrifty Nickel" still exists? Oh's online now. Whodathunkit? My dad spent 98% of his reading time going between "Thrifty Nickel" and "Auto Trader". A bit of Zane Grey, but mostly hours and hours of perusal for used car parts that would, temporarily, get our array of cars-on-cinder blocks into running condition. Funny how one's buying/selling agoraphobia originates.


Anonymous said...

Thrifty Nickel Want Ads Newspapers do still exist they changed their name to American Classifieds. This is because now they have over 300 papers under their umbrella. You can view the classifieds locally or nationwide by visiting or

Thanks for your interest.

Anonymous said...

Well tsk! Now you've made me feel a tad guilty. You see, after the testing scores / teacher names debacle I decided that these morons needed some edumacation so I've been finding testing articles on the internet and emailing them to the reporter who seems to be fixated with testing. I have received no reply for my labors but hopefully she reads them.

Sus said...

"And that gets us to the Journal. Like APS the Journal, in my view, has little to do with its individual employees." a former Journal employee (the biz side, not the editorial side) who was laid-off in January, I watched that place sink lower & lower despite the attempts of some of the best co-workers I ever had. Many of us tried to talk to management, to express the need for the paper to evolve, get a better website, provide better incentives for people to place ads, etc. but sadly, the publisher & upper management aren't interested. Or at least that's the perception they give.