Craigslist Founder Donates $1 Million to Fight ‘Fake News’

Craigslist (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark donated $1 million to the Poynter Institute for Media Studies to support a five-year journalism ethics program focused on verification, fact-checking and accountability in journalism.

Poynter announced Monday that it will use the funds to hire a faculty member for the new position of Craig Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics. The institute will develop “ethics certificates and badges to journalists and media organizations that commit to ethical decision-making practices.” The Craig Newmark Chair will guide the new ethics program.

The donation was hailed as the largest since the institute’s founding in 1975. Nelson Poynter created the Institute, to which he transferred ownership of the Tampa Bay Times, then called the St. Petersburg Times. The donation comes shortly after an October announcement that the Times will cut staff back to 2015 levels. Poynter reported that in March 2015 staff was reported at around 200, down from a 2006 high of 406 full-time employees.

“I want to stand up for trustworthy journalism, and I want to stand against deceptive and fake news,” said Newmark, also founder of the Craig Newmark Foundation, and an advisory board member to the Wikimedia foundation.

“And I want to help news organizations stand and work together to protect themselves and the public against deception by the fake media. Poynter’s the right place to do this work because the Institute has long been very serious about trustworthy news and committed to both training journalists and holding media organizations accountable.”

In comments to the San Francisco Chronicle, Newmark referred to himself as a “news consumer,” and said, “I just want some news I can trust.”

Poynter President Tim Franklin added, in the Institute’s announcement:“The need for credible, trusted information has never been more critical, as we’ve seen with the recent proliferation of fake news on social media.”

Earlier this year, Newmark’s foundation also gave $1 million to the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia,  according to the Chronicle. “Wikipedia is where facts to go live,” said Newmark.

(However, by Wikipedia’s own admission, it has carried “fake” information, on occasion, for upwards of a decade. The website admitted, “many hoaxes remain undiscovered.” Wikipedia has also created a list of what it considers “fake news” sites.)

Poynter stated that it will work with media organizations, including “the Trust Project at Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the American Press Institute, Google and Facebook to identify and support the tools and techniques that deliver trustworthy news.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 


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