The discussion about Craigslist and Walmart below is fascinating but this recent comment from Ronnie in New Orleans takes the king cake:

So Wal Mart sucks. And Craig is a dirty capitalist. Bravo guys.

As a New Orleans native and Katrina victim all I can say is thank God for Wal Mart, Craig’s list, Google, credit cards, and e-mail.

After sitting on my roof for 8 hours and getting totally drenched by the 14 feet of water under me it was remarkably edifying to get to a Wal Mart in Baton Rouge, take out my credit card (most places did not want the wet money in my wallet) and buy some dry clothes. I could even change in the men’s room. Seemed there were no local haberdasheries open after 10pm, and most of the locals were price gouging anyway. Wal Mart had sales on essentials, and had them in stock. Guess there’s always time for dumpster diving.

I used Craig’s list and Google to find apartments in BR, Lafayette, Seattle (for my son), St. Louis (another son), and Houston (yet another). Exactly how would the fabled print media have helped with that. By the time any print ad could be processed the places were gone….

So wake up, pull the head out of that dark place, and join the 21st century. Just because other people are now making the money you used to make does not mean society is jeopardized. Believe me, someone will go to the freaking zoning meeting. To quote my youngest, “You guys are just so OVER.”

Thanks Wal Mart, and Craig, and Bill Gates, and AOL, and Steve jobs, and all of the other folks who were innovating for a better future while the old guard was sitting on their hands and collecting self generated awards for stories of the past. I cannot imagine what it would have been like without you. I would have had to read a newspaper; in a shelter.

I’ll take the net, Craigs list, and the blogs. You take FEMA, the local daily, and the hard wired phone. Best of luck. You may find yourself dumpster diving.

That’s the future calling.

  • al hill

    right on .. walmart could have run up prices instead they marked down basic items…

  • al hill

    one other thing how maney people found lost love ones by using the intrenet .. to yo9u think anybodid tht using a local paper or tv station? …

  • greenmountaineer

    Bravo, Jeff. Way to use a Katrina comment as an example that local print newspapers can’t compete with Craigslist and deserve to go out of business unless they employ an all-volunteer staff to keep it afloat ad-free. (Hyperbole? Sure, but you do the same.) A freakin’ H-bomb dropped on New Orleans, yeah god bless the Internet for being able to pull the rebound when the local printing press and other “snail” technologies couldn’t.

    Most of all, I still can’t believe you haven’t apologized or responded to the good people in Vermont who defended their newspaper after you carelessly attacked it and got it WRONG. It’s correction time, Mr Blogmeister. Instead you pull this extreme situation to point out. This is ludicrous.

  • Puff

    Wal-Mart is the fastfood retailer, and just like McDonalds, most of the elite miss the fact that consistent mediocrity served hot (or dry, as the case may be) 24/7, beats 9-5 quality that isn’t in your neighborhood (or where you happen to be NOW).

  • Well, Green, I think it’s a great discussion and the Seven Days folks are speaking for themselves quite well.

  • greenmountaineer

    But you still owe them an apology and updated correction in your blog post. That’s how things work in the blogosphere. You haven’t acknowledged anywhere that you were wrong in stating that they don’t have blogs to reach out to the community. Yes, it’s a great discussion and it would be even better if owned up to your mistake.

  • And exactly what is the mistake, Green? Yes, they have blogs. And I think that’s great. It’s a good blog. And blogs are interactivity. But my point is that they didn’t build the open marketplace that Craigslist is and that’s what Redmond is whining about and that’s what I am saying they could have built. I say they don’t have “community-run blogs,” but they do have blogs. Is that what you mean? Please do tell me; I’m not trying to be resistant or dense but I fear I’m not seeing what you see.

  • Ronnie in New Orleans

    Our Parish (you’d say county) paper is the St. Bernard Voice, and they are back in operation of a sort. Distribution is limited because transportation is limited but they are trying. I wish them well but that’s not the point. They had a very limited voice to begin with, basically covering the local school and government scene and providing pictures of weddings, graduations, and A list achievements by students. Gave Grandma a steady source of the kids photos for the fridge.

    But if Grandma could have used a ‘puter, as the kids have been saying since the age of five or so, she could have gotten those pictures off the school website, as a full color JPEG, not a halftone.

    I wish all local businesses well, but the truth is that communications and rapid distribution have made our “local community” larger by orders of magnitude. Katrina only emphasized and focused the weaknesses of relying on local resources in an expanding and interdependent environment. The models are changing, and are changing the definitions of words like community. I’m not saying you have to like it, the middlemen sure don’t, just that it does really make life different, more efficient, cheaper, and better.

    Just the opinion of an aging boomer who would regret watching the world pass him by, especially since it becomes easier and more enjoyable every day. The access to services, to information on the subjects I enjoy, to the full range of opinions, even those I dislike. I do remember the “good old days.” Don’t want ’em back either.

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  • greenmountaineer

    I think you’re being tremendously dense. Those “staff” blogs are run by members of the “community” for the “community” on a “community” newspaper (you can work for a newspaper and still be a part of the community, right?) and it’s open for all to comment. What do you mean by a “community-run blog”? I think they have one. Please show me examples of a community blog with open posting privileges. Sounds like you’re talking about a message board, which is what CraigsList is…

    Ooooh, I see now. It’s message boards, not blogs, that are making a difference. You talked me into it, blogs are just noise. Message boards are where the real community conversation takes place.

  • I don’t see the relationship between Walmart and Craigslist or the internet. The fact that Walmart “did the right thing” is worth noting, but Walmart is the ultimate bricks and mortar business. Even their first foray into online merchandising was a flop.

    And if the land lines failed in NO, so did the wireless technology. As far as I can see the only coherent remark is that online services, based out of the region, were able to provide better service than local companies that were directly affected. Of what use would have been craigslist if there server had been in downtown NO?

  • Green: GoSkokie.com Backfence.com Northwestvoice.com NashvilleIsTalking.com … to name a few. You are making this into a war between me and Seven Days. It’s not. They’re not treating it that way. I’m not. You are. Chill pill. It’s a fine paper from the looks of it. All I’m saying is that they could do what Redmond is begging Craig not to do on their own.

  • Ronnie in New Orleans


    Land lines are still not back in NOLA. It’s pretty much a wireless only city unless you’re a gov’t agency. The Times Pic runs about 2-3 days behind in local news from web and blog sites.

    The internet model originally formulated for ARPA net is very resistant to large scale failure, and worked in all areas not directly affected by the storm and was far easier and quicker to repair than the old systems. Most important, the kids (you decide the ages), all know how to use it, and were helping Grandpa and Grandma etc. fill out the online forms. What’s your future when most of your younger customers are over 40.

    The only part of FEMA that works consistently is online registration and reporting. Got some time to waste. Call their landline. Then after you finally get somebody, try finding someone who can answer anything. You can pretty much do anything you need on the website, and print it too.

    Of course they could mail me the forms. I started to get October’s mail last week.

    And Wal Mart came into the discussion because someone else commented on how Craigslist was just a bunch of capitalists like Wal Mart, and disparaged the folks who shop there. That’s why I started the post as I did.

    I have no stake in the newspaper vs online argument… don’t work for a tech firm or a paper. I come to this site because I find the discussion interesting. But if you’re betting on the print media and the small country drugstore, you’re holding a losing hand.

  • John Robb

    Go ahead. All my New England friends who bad mouth Wal Mart are free to pay higher prices and preserve their snobbish attitudes. Here in the Deep South, as in other places, when a crisis strikes and help is needed it was Wal Mart that came to the rescue. If nothing else, the stores opened almost immediately after the storms hit and not one cent was gouged from anyone. Not true of many of the little opportunist operations.

    Maybe Wal Mart sucks from some but it was a gentle breeze after a horrible storm in south Louisiana.

  • Anon

    you also failed to mention that seven days offers FREE classified ads to private parties and that those ads run both online AND in the newspaper. yes, they are charging for commercial ads and the charge seems nominal ($10-$25?)

    Craig’s going to charge $10 in NY for RE and he has virtually no overhead.

    you also cherry-picked a story you thought would be perjorative (sex survey) instead of mentioning any of the hard news they’ve got on their homepage.

    time to self-correct on the front of the original post, asshole.

  • Scott Findley

    forest through the trees please…

    fortunately Ronnie is flying at 50,000 feet with a clear view…today can not be yesterday…my grandmother would have loved a jpg…

    if anything is apparent from this line of discussion is that private sector is driven to survival by competition which ignites and inspires innovation…FEMA in not in that mode. If ‘print’ or ‘mom & pops’, Wal Mart or FEMA for that matter, are meant to be part of tomorrow, they will find a way…innovate or evaporate…period.

    Change is the only thing we can be assured of…we can use it as a stepping stone or a stumbling block…for the moment we can still see the sun rising in the east, and (human kind help us) tomorrow will be another day. Any or all the tools of survival we can access are welcome to me, my family, my business and hopefully to all equally.

    Time and space are being relentlessly compressed by the introduction of new forms of communication…history does repeat itself…just as the locomotive, the telegraph, the telephone collapsed our parents and grandparents world, the fax machines, the internet and the
    ‘crack berry’ have done it again. Technology and change of modes of market place are only the tip of the iceberg…and do you fear it? Can we really ‘hate’ it? Does it not make this life that much more interesting, convenient, vital? Technology is the future of our future and Wal Mart and Craigslist will morph eventually into something unknown to us at this moment.

    As the world watched in stunned silence as our precious environment demonstrates it force in NOLA and other earthly places, I believe a ‘new’ NOLA renaisance to be eminent, and the soul of this legendary city, and its future will rise stronger, richer and more secure as a result of Katrina…human nature and innovation will prevail…do we have an another option?

    And by the way, Wal Mart is still the only place in China where I can find a decent glazed donut…

  • Nahanni

    In the wake of Hurricane Rita H.E.B. grocery stores in Texas were open as soon as they possibly could. They had brought in employees from non affected areas to help run the stores while the local employees were taking care of their families and repair crews ready in case a store needed a bit of repair. They also had semis loaded with all sorts of stuff to restock the shelves.

    Within 12 hours of the storm passing you could get just about anything you needed. Sure the stores were busy but at least you could get fresh food, milk for the kids, ice for the coolers, prescriptions filled, glasses made if yours broke etc.

  • Nahanni

    I forgot to mention that the H.E.B. employees who came in to help reopen the stores from other areas had volunteered to go. They were not “ordered” to. They came in to help their neighbors out.

  • Bradley

    Bill Gates an innovator? That was a clueless faux pas in an otherwise insightful comment. Gates hasn’t invented anything, either alone or with Microsoft. His offerings came either from competing products he purchased or were modeled after them. AOL isn’t any better.

    As for the others, three cheers for Craigslist and Google! (I can find help for a Microsoft product more easily through Google than by using Microsoft’s nearly useless “help” menu).

    Two cheers for Wal-Mart. (Debits for its sanitized choice in music, repeated violations of labor policies, etc., but still a tremendous community benefit overall from low prices).

  • Greg Hightower

    Well, Green, I think it’s a great discussion and the Seven Days folks are speaking for themselves quite well.

    That’s obnoxious. You have yet to respond to their comments in any form, positive or negative, in that thread. Look, you started it by talking shit about them. I hate to lecture you on what a “conversation” is but it involves some back-and-forth. It appears you backed out of the “conversation” right after you posted.

    I guess you only offer your consulting services to “big media” who can afford it and get you more publicity.

  • One thing that runs through the earlier thread and to a lesser extent here, at least so far, is a remarkable amount of hostility in some quarters to print journalism. How come? Print is a technology; it’s not an ideology. Did these people hate telegrams? What are they so angry about?

    That’s especially relevant here because, by all accounts that I have seen, the Picayune did a superlative job of covering the hurricane, before, during and after. Is this the sort of coverage that people are rooting to see go away?

    If the corporate journalism behemoths go down because they failed to innovate, then fine. But why beat up on a guy somewhere who’s been keeping his family alive and serving his community with a quality weekly newspaper? Where’s he going to find the time and money to become a cutting-edge innovator in the new media word? He’s a news guy, not a techno whiz.

    Also, I detect a large disconnect here between people who actually do journalism and people who don’t on how hard it will be to replace paid reporters with online volunteers and freelancers. My own considerable experience suggests that it’s a snap to fill a publication, either online or in print, with free opinions. Actual reporting is a very different matter and will always, in the long run, have to be compensated. Discussions here that don’t address how that will occur are missing the point.

  • You are making this into a war between me and Seven Days. It’s not. They’re not treating it that way.

    Is that so? You might want to read what the Seven Days blog has to say about your post. As it’s been pointed out a million times now, you got it WRONG.

    Of course, you’ve been silent and haven’t responded to a thing they’ve said so it’s impossible to determine if you have any real interest in having a “conversation” and correcting yourself.

  • Ronnie in New Orleans


    In a technical sense you’re right. Gates and MS are not great software innovators. A lot of folks hate Bill Gates, and MS-DOS was a purchased copy of a previous OS Gates adapted for the IBM PC. CP-M and other OS’s were available before Gates even founded MS. But the point is that Gates innovated the business model of selling software and OS’s for a profit (horrid greedy capitalist). Even Apple, often credited as the innovator of the PC revolution, was a hardware company. Bill beat them up by leaving the hardware to others and adapting and selling his software. IBM came to Gates to develop the OS for their machine and thought so little of the prospect of selling the software that they allowed him a license to sell his own copies to others.

    Bad, bad idea boys.

    This is exactly what people are knocking Craig for. He has innovated a business model to make money from giving people easy internet access to valuable information. This sort of innovation is much more germane to the news market than any new techie fad, because what the traditional news gatherers desperately need is a way to leverage the service they provide into revenue. But just as people hate Gates for making money from his software, (see Stallman, Richard) folks will disparage Craig for making money from his list. But just as with Gates, if the value is there, folks will pay.

    Innovate, adapt, profit – either monetarily or otherwise. The alternatives are not appealing.

    and David…

    I don’t hate the print media. I just view them as the Wang, IBM, and DEC of the new decade. And I have no desire to beat up on some poor local , news guy any more than I wanted to see the ladies in the word processing typing pools lose their jobs (and their Selectrics and Olivettis). But what in my lifetime would lead me to believe that change and innovation is going to selectively leave him alone. Not my fault, just an observation.

    It’s going to be a fascinating decade in the news business.

  • Well, I see that alternative newspaper readers in Vermont are real sweethearts. Take a deep breath of that mountain air, people. Find your centers. Fast.
    As for me: You might want to read the post above to find out why I haven’t been posting. I’ve been a bit preoccupied.

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  • john smith

    This story while heart wrenching is probably not true. At least not the part of coming down from their roof and going to walmart in Baton Rouge. See, there were virtually no personal cars drivable after the Hurricane. The only transportation was provided by government and organizations. And these ALL brought people to shelters where there needs were met. Shame on you for using such an horrific event as Katrina to prove your point!

  • Ths is what it’s like to endure Wal-Mart construction across the street…


  • Gabriel

    Great post, thanks.

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