We paid $65 on Tuesday for the privilege of hearing Craigslist founder Craig Newmark tell us he has sparrows, finches and mourning doves outside his window.

Some other bird was mentioned later, but by the fifth bird conversation our interest had sprouted wings.

Mediabistro billed this as a 90-minute conversation with Craig Newmark, with questions and answers, discussing how to start a media business. He talked for 25 minutes, or rather he responded (sort of)  to questions by writing consultant Fran Trelease and then talked about his birds, the neighborhood women who knew he liked birds, dogs and babies and ignored our question about EBay and attorneys general litigation. Trelease was clearly out of her depth – no control of the conversation at all.

To be fair we don’t know if Mediabistro ignored our question or Newmark did. While we really hadn’t expected a detailed explanation – that’s not the Newmark way – we at least anticipated that our credit card would have bought us the mention of our inquiry.

A few Newmark takeaways:

— He trusts the New York Times and would pay $1,000 a year for its content, or that of another news provider he trusts.
— He’s working with Jim Jarvis on a project next week (assume it’s the University of Buffalo’s Jim Jarvis, but Trelease never asked for clarification and Newmark was muttering).
— He grew up a nerd and had to learn listening the hard way.
— Now and then someone in the press will be kind to Craigslist. (Craig, it’s quite often AIM Group. Just not today.)

At the end of the 25 minutes followed by evasive answers to several questions (not ours), Trelease said goodbye to Newmark and people started hanging up – including AIM. We immediately asked for our money back and got an e-mailed reply that the call was still going on. We returned to find some woman talking about developing a business. We dropped back off and again asked for a refund.

“Per our policy we can’t issue you a refund,” replied Mediabistro’s Jonathan Federico. (No title in his signature.) By our unscientific count the most that attended this non-event was 35; only 29 stayed on, or perhaps returned as we did, after Newmark left the building.

 UPDATE: After a few e-mail conversations, we finally got an August 13 promise of a refund within eight days.


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