NPR will be one of the dominant forces in media in ten years because their membership-based funding model is finely tuned to the habits of millennial news consumers. That's the prophecy of Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and a new media philosopher.
"Only very recently have I been thinking about the successful news organizations, he said, responding to a question from James Fallows at the Washington Ideas Forum. "I have a feeling that membership models and philanthrophy models will be stronger than advertising-supported models, people will be willing to pay for news they can trust."
And trust, he said, "is the new black."
"News organizations that are successful are the one that are going to be restoring the traditional values like fact-checking." He said "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central is more faithful to the traditional model of journalism than any other show. "I'm joking, but I'm not really joking."
Newmark described himself as a "nerd ... [who could] simulate social skills for a while," but he seemed quite comfortable in front of the WIF audience.
Though he founded Craigslist, Newmark is now a customer service representative. He also works with Wikipedia to help people correct misinformation that creeps into their user-generated biographies.
But he admitted that there aren't enough intermediaries like him in the media ecosphere now.
"No one has the answer in terms of scalability," he said.
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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.