by the Forward

Craig Newmark

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Defender Of Trustworthy News

Craig Newmark assured reporters that he did not make a donation to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism out of guilt.

Newmark, founder of Craigslist — the online service which has claimed a major part of the billion-dollar classified ad business from newspapers — gave the school $20 million in June in support of journalism and a public school system that was committed to helping students who relied on scholarships, like he once did.

“In this time, when trustworthy news is under attack, somebody has to stand up,” Newmark, 65, told the New York Times. “And the way you stand up these days is by putting your money where your mouth is, and that’s what I’ve done.”

He started attending journalism conferences about 10 years ago, and in making friends, he gained a serious interest in the industry. He has been donating to CUNY Graduate School of Journalism since 2016, noting that it was a “university for everyone,” regardless of financial status.

In his dedication to journalism, he also donated $1 million to ProPublica, $500,000 to Columbia Journalism Review, $1 million to Data & Society (a research institute) and more than $560,000 to the International Center for Journalists.

In an interview with Recode in July, Newmark said there were three people who had a major influence on his life. The first two were Mr. and Mrs. Levin, his Hebrew School teachers at the Jewish Community Center in Morristown, New Jersey.

“They helped me understand that I should treat people like I want to be treated, and they also, I think, taught me that I should know when enough is enough,” particularly in regards to money, he said.

The next was his high school U.S. History teacher, Mr. Schulsky.

“He bridged me into U.S. history and American values because another way of saying what the Levins taught me was that, well, our country is about fairness, opportunity and respect — or should be,” he explained.

He continued: “I also learned that a trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy, as I like to put it, and I got pretty committed to the Bill of Rights, due process, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This guy was serious about getting that across to us, and it stuck pretty thoroughly.”

Newmark reiterated these sentiments in his New York Times interview, where he earnestly shared the reason behind his generous donations.

“My motivation in helping is because, in our country right now,” he said, “we are facing a crisis in getting trustworthy news out there to overwhelm the misinformation.”

— Alyssa Fisher

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