Newspapers can't make themselves as simple as craigslist

Wired's Gary Wolf follows up yesterday's story on craigslist's unrelenting simpleness with a story about how bad newspapers are at attaining the simplicity and usefulness of craigslist, even when they explicitly set out to do so. It's a good look at how some organizations are constitutionally incapable of changing in fundamental ways, even when they recognize that they must.

But advertising and upselling are not promising ways to support what Jacobson, et al, confidently call a "craigslist killer." Advertising on classifieds puts the newspaper in direct competition with its users, and creates an environment in which the classifieds are swamped by blatant, cheesy come-ons from paid advertisers trying to distract buyers. The image below is the from the apartments-for-rent page at the Bakersfield Californian, one of the papers that has tried this approach. What you see here is nearly the entire visible section of the page on a reasonably large laptop screen.

The Craigslist Credo: Bad Advice for Newspapers