You never give me your money, you only give me your funny paper

February 22nd, 2011

It used to be that if you needed a job, apartment, car or toaster you would look in the classified ads in the newspaper. If a newspaper could build a city- or region-wide monopoly on classified ads, this became the proverbial license to print money for media outlet owners. People knew that the paper was the place to look. Hence, papers had three revenue streams: unit sales, commercial advertising and classified ads.

When the latter started to move online about ten years ago, it dealt a massive blow to the former two. The most used classified ads site in North America is craigslist; it is so pervasive that it has now joined facebook and google in the list of nouns that are also used as verbs. As a young journalist one might think I would resent the existence of online classified ads sites, but no, I do not. In the past two weeks I have bought a microwave, a lamp, a tea pot and a couple of air mattresses off such sites, and I’m still hunting for speakers, a bass guitar and another lamp. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.