There’s been a ridiculous and unproductive debate of sorts lately about who killed papers, Google or craigslist. Answer: neither. Papers will kill papers. James Fallows got a great email from someone at Google that points to where the real dangers lie:
It’s not at all about blame-casting. It’s about proper diagnosis for treatment and recovery. If papers are critically ill from classified revenue woes (Craigslist, eBay, informal email, …) but they falsely self-diagnose as being sick from over exposure in Google News, then they’ll end up closing their borders by withdrawing from news aggregation sites at Google, Yahoo, MSN, and elsewhere. That won’t hurt Internet companies [like Google] at all, but it will leave publishers with fewer new visitors, less online monetization opportunities, and still obliviously infected with disappearing classified revenues. They will get sick faster, and journalism as democracy’s conscience will weaken. That will hurt every other company, every citizen, and nearly every country.
The only blame belongs to the publishers. . . . Newspapers will never be about selling your old BBQ again. Ads at random, scattered between unrelated stories, are not part of the future of shopping. . . .