Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the (British) Guardian is unhappy with blogs, and he’s especially unhappy with Craig’s List (longer entry here). He sees them as part of a vast “pincer movement” seeking to destroy print journalism:

Alan Rusbridger spoke to the Royal Society of Arts in London yesterday on the subject “Newspapers in the age of blogs.” The Guardian’s editor is almost certainly unique amongst British newspaper editors as having regularly supped with start-ups and Web 2.0 companies in Silicon Valley. He is trying to figure out, understandably, how his newspaper should deal with the pincer movement of the terminal decline in newspaper readership and the loss of display and classified advertising revenue – all thanks to the Internet.

For starters (complains Rusbridger) young people don’t read newspapers:

The latest research from the Pew Internet Foundation has shown that in the US there’s not a great appetite for reading newspapers among 18-30 years olds. Meanwhile, the existing newspaper readership is slowly dying off.

FWIW, I read the Philadelphia Inquirer every day, but I’m an old codger with irrepressible feelings of nostalgia for the past. I say that by way of self-deprecating disclosure, but the fact is I really want the Inquirer to remain successful — both as a print and as a blog venture — and if everyone around here subscribed (as I do), Philly would be the better for it. So I’m sympathetic to Mr. Rusbridger’s plight, but not his blame-the-bloggers meme. (In fact, it irritates me to be accused of bringing down something I’d like to preserve, and maybe even improve.)
Nor am I terribly sympathetic to the idea of Craig’s List as the villain:

. . .Rusbridger turned to the revenue problems for newspaper looming from the web start-ups.
“A lot is down to Craig Newmark, an archetypal West Coast liberal who is almost single-handedly destroying the American newspaper industry with Craigslist.org.”

Sorry, but I have to interrupt.
Isn’t there such a thing as a free market? Isn’t Rusbridger’s complaint a little like the Dakota auctioneers who wanted to criminalize ebay for taking away their business? Is anyone stopping the angry newspaper industry from starting its own alternative?
Can’t anybody do what Craig’s List does?
Actually, that seems to be the complaint. It’s too down to earth.

A web site that “will never win any prizes for design” started off as a lark by Newmark, but evolved to offer a unique business model: advertising listings which were free to place and free to view.
This is clearly “a difficult model to beat.”
Craigslist is now in 192 cities, and only charges for want ads in three of them, and only $25 , while Craigslist competitors, like the New York Times, charge $300.
With no marketing costs – it’s all word of mouth – Craigslist has little overheads.
He employs 18 people, in a fairly run-down office in San Francisco and he won’t sell the company to any newspaper he’s put the fear of God into.
As Rusbridger said, “this is a utopian exercise, we think he’s making $10m a year and he’s not going to sell. He’s just interested in creating a space that’s free to both sides.”

A run-down office containing a ten million dollar a year utopia? If that much wealth has actually been created, I’d hardly call it utopianism. A better word would be capitalism. Bill Gates started out of a garage (simply with an idea of selling operating systems separately from machines), and now he’s the richest man in the world.
Isn’t rags to riches the nature of capitalism? Of the free market system?

The contrast with the New York Times is obvious. It is about to move into a massive new headquarters, employs around 10,000 people: “Craig has a shack and these NYT people are terrified. And that goes for the whole of the American print industry.”

If they can do a better job, then they should. There’s something about this argument that smacks of protectionism. Or even corporate socialism.
Sheesh. Next thing you know, the “whole of the American print industry” will be asking for government help.
There I go again, engaging in what I consider satire. When will I get it through my skull that my satire is someone else’s public policy?
Finally, Rusbridger turns to what he considers a major blogosphere shortcoming:

Concluding, his speech, Rusbridger asked “where does the newspaper sit in society?”
If newspapers can’t afford to report the news because the economic support has been taken away; If chunks are taken away editorially; If people follow only their own fragmented range of interests, then papers are trouble.
But for a society to work well, citizens have to be informed across a range of subjects. Politicians, in fact, would find it hard to govern without informed citizens. And newspapers stand outside government and can critique it.
Rusbridger drew on an anecdote about a dinner he attended where representatives form the highest levels of politics, the military and judiciary were present, just after the Iraq war.
“One by one they said we all failed. All the parts if the state that were supposed to work didn’t. The only thing that did work was newspapers and broadcasters.”
In an age where some parts of the world remain no-go areas to ordinary people, like Baghdad, it’s newspapers which are sending reporters like Jonathon Steel, 67, who said “he wanted to go. What happens if all the journalists pull out? There’s a duty to go. There’ aren’t any bloggers volunteering to go.”

There aren’t any bloggers volunteering to go?
Hmmm….
Was Michael Yon drafted into service? Michael Totten? How about Bill Roggio? None of those guys volunteered?
And what about the Iraqi bloggers? Like Iraq the Model? Zeyad? How about the other Iraqi bloggers too numerous to count? Don’t they count as bloggers? Sure, they might not have “volunteered to go,” because after all, they’re already there.
With all due respect to Mr. Rusbridger, there are bloggers in Iraq. Simple logic dictates that either he knew or he didn’t know. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t know.
Is that the fault of Craig’s List?
UPDATE: My thanks to Dean Esmay for the link! Says Dean,

The question is, is Rusbridger a deeply ignorant man, or simply a liar? Let’s give him [Rusbridger] the benefit of the doubt and assume “deeply ignorant.” It still says everything we need to know about why his industry is in free fall, doesn’t it?