Craigslist founder-turned-philanthropist Craig Newmark took aim at fake news this week, giving $15 million to support media integrity.
Lamenting the “disinformation flowing through social platforms and the news,” he donated $10 million to the Columbia School of Journalism to launch the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security. He gave $5 million for a similarly focused center at the Poynter Institute.
“It’s critical to modernize journalism ethics so that the industry keeps pace with the ever-changing digital landscape,” Newmark (LinkedIn profile) said in a statement. “With these gifts, I hope [the two institutions] will become the industry’s go-to resources for the challenges journalists face in a data-driven world.”
Representatives from both institutions expressed deep gratitude. Others in the media industry expressed cynicism about a man some blame for the death of newspapers.
“It’s utterly bizarre to name a journalism school after the man who almost singlehandedly destroyed local newspapers,” Axios writer Felix Salmon wrote on Twitter.
However, the reality is more complicated and many fault newspapers’ own complacency. The AIM Group debunks the “Craig Newmark killed newspapers / Craigslist killed newspapers” theory in an AIM Group Marketplaces Report about CraigsList achieving $1 billion in annual revenue.
Newmark has made journalistic quality one of his pet causes. His other recent gifts have included $20 million to the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York and a $20 million donation to the tech-focused startup The Markup.
He has channeled other donations to New York Public Radio and The City, a not-for-profit news site also covering the Big Apple.