....how many people in the room of several hundred recognized him or his name? Only a smattering of hands rose. A few more hands went up at the mention of Craigslist and its free classifieds.Here's a guy who was taking business worth millions of dollars from newspapers and the people who who ran those papers didn't even know his name.
Newspapers in one city - San Francisco - had already lost $50 million to $65 million in employment advertising revenue to Craigslist according to a 2004 report.
Phil Bronstein, former SF Chroncle editor and now an editor-at-large with Hearst Newspapers admitted just today that mistakes were made:
"But the notion that we old media institutions are still the big boys, so much more more important and, well, HEFTIER than these pesky digital newcomers sounds familiar: we had the exact same view of things when CraigsList started cranking up at the beginning of the 2000s.And it's well documented that the people who run newspapers pretty much missed the boat in grasping the importance of the Internet.
"We were up to important things then, too important to worry about this quirky little community, sell-your-bicycle site. Weren't we? Hundreds of millions of dollars in lost classified revenues later, newspapers no longer feel that way. Too late for crying."
And now they have another problem....blogs!
The proliferation of blogs is a part of the democratization of the delivery of information.
Newspaper decision makers who ignore this fact are making the same mistake as those who failed to grasp the importance of the Internet and Craigslist, hoping perhaps, that those two entities would go away.
Our hometown paper - The Miami Herald - is a microcosm and might well be the poster child for problems that continue to plague the newspaper industry.
And it's missing the boat again.
Can you remember the last time you read a story in the Herald or on its website that talked about or linked to a local blog?
That's right...almost never!
Occasionally one of the Herald's blogs will link to a local blog.
But for the most part the Herald continues to deny that bloggers exist in South Florida.
Many blogs in South Florida - including this blog - link to Herald stories many times a week. SFDB links to all of South Florida's three newspapers everyday. For many, a visit to SFDB is a must first thing in the morning...even before a visit to MiamiHerald.com.
And there's some damn good writing showing up on some of our blogs. And there's stuff you won't read anywhere else.
Why can't the Herald reprint some of the best writing from South Florida's blogosphere on its op-ed pages once a week or more often? And what's wrong with devoting a section of their website with links to some of South Florida's best blogs.
Other segments of South Florida media occasionally recognize the existence of bloggers.
But not the Herald.
Those in power at the paper can no longer afford to ignore bloggers as they did with the Internet and Craigslist. We're not going away. We're here to stay.
In September of last year David Letterman said to John McCain after McCain blew off an appearance on his show during the campaign: "You don't come to see me, well we might not see YOU on Inauguration Day!"
To paraphrase Letterman, bloggers to the Miami Herald: Ignore us and we might just start ignoring you!
And a final thought to those in charge at the Herald: There's not much riding on this...just your survival!