Thursday, December 01, 2005

Escaping Through the Back Door

That image keeps coming to mind as I think about journalists and their reaction to the blogosphere. You keep hearing top dogs at big papers lamenting the loss of readers to the online world or the loss of journalistic credibility to "bloggers in pajamas."

But while they're guarding the front door, the revenue keeps slipping out the back. Today the Pew Internet Project is out with a study about how classified advertising is keeps moving to the Internet, specifically to Craigslist. I know I've used Craigslist in the past when I trying to sell something easily and would never THINK of buying an ad in the Boston Globe. In the past I've given away a washing machine and sold a mountable microwave and an Adams Trail-A-Bike. I also bought a beautiful oak desk/armoire. I haven't touched the Globe classifieds since the late 90s.

Moving to online classifieds isn't about younger kids, it's about GenX. According to the study, 26 percent of people between the ages of 29 and 40 sell things online. That's more than the 18 to 28 group (17 percent) and users over 40 (13 percent).

But Craigslist itself better watch out, because bigger changes are afoot. Google has launched Google Base, which is one such classified service, and now Microsoft is next with its service currently called Freemont. Charlene Li notes that Microsoft's is especially interesting because it includes the ability to exchange goods with a circle of friends. Kind of like a social networking tool with goods.

So newspapers better figure out a way to lock the back door, or at least look for a new revenue stream.

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