When it comes to fighting fake news, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark says he’s “putting my money where my mouth is.”
Newmark talked to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric on Tuesday about his recent decision to donate $1 million to the Poynter Institute through his own charitable foundation. The sizable donation — the largest a single foundation has ever made to the nonprofit journalism school — aims to expand Poynter’s ethics and accountability education for journalists.
“I’m a news consumer. I want news I can trust,” Newmark told Couric via Skype from San Francisco. “So I figured I’d locate some of the people doing the best work in trustworthy news, help them out however I can.”
Newmark said he encountered plenty of fake news stories in his social media feeds during the presidential election cycle. In addition to his contribution to the Poynter Institute, Newmark also hopes to combat false news stories by encouraging popular news aggregators and social media sites to differentiate more clearly between reliable news sources and those that publish fake stories, such as the one that recently led a North Carolina man to open fire inside the Washington, D.C., pizzeria that he falsely believed was at the center of a child sex ring.
“The theory is that if people can click in their news feeds and say, ‘Only show me trustworthy stuff, stuff which is verified,’ then people with goodwill won’t see that kind of thing,” Newmark said.
“Let’s provide a lot of good stuff to make it easy, make it the new normal,” he said, dismissing critics like libertarian former presidential candidate Ron Paul, who wrote a column over the weekend declaring that the “war on ‘fake news’” was actually part of a war on free speech. Newmark said he’s also a longtime libertarian.
“What I’m doing is getting a dialogue going between people at Facebook and Google and the news ethics professionals,” Newmark said.
“We’re all in this together,” he continued. “I am confident, based on 20 years of online customer service, that people can work together to make things better for everyone.”