Craig Newmark the founder of Craigslist has become an important philanthropist giving to media, academia and veterans causes. Howard University and Mr. Newmark announced his $2.5 million donation for Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications to help support aspiring young journalism students, reports Howard University’s Newsroom.
Although Newmark made most of his money through Craigslist, in recent years he’s been spending most of his time focusing on his philanthropic work. In an interview with the Nob Hill Gazette, Newmark said that he is no longer doing customer service for Craigslist, “but I’m busier than I’ve ever been with my philanthropic work, and I do customer service there.” He later explains that, “One approach in philanthropy is to share power. My variation of that is that I give away power rather than accumulating it because I have no interest in accumulating power and I could be way more effective by giving it away. That’s power as expressed in dollars and influence.”
This most recent donation will be gifted to the school via Craig Newmark Philanthropies to support several areas of need within the school, including $1.5 million for The Craig Newmark Journalism Endowed Opportunity Scholarship Program which will target primarily junior and senior student journalists with demonstrated financial needs; and The Craig Newmark Journalism Endowed Student Experience Fund which will promote professional development opportunities and job availability for graduating students.
“We are honored and humbled to receive this generous donation from Craig Newmark and Craig Newmark Philanthropies to support students in our journalism program,” said Gracie Lawson-Borders, Ph.D., dean of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications. “We are at a pivotal moment in society in which good journalism serves as a cornerstone that supports democracy reporting history as it unfolds and giving voice to Blacks and other marginalized communities. Fifty years after the 1968 Kerner Commission report, our relevancy is heightened by the tenor of our times. It is essential that our school continues to prepare student journalists to provide context and give voice to all communities across this country. In the School of C, our awarding-winning faculty work to train and prepare successful journalists for the application of their craft. Thank you, Mr. Newmark.”
While this is one of the biggest donations Newmark has made to support journalism this year, it is not the first. At the end of January, the American Press Institute announced a grant of $388,000 from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to “build a real-time network of newsroom leaders, civic and academic institutions, and outside experts who will communicate throughout the 2020 election to combat disinformation and other threats to honest reporting, election integrity and voter suppression,” according to Craig Newmark Philanthropies Newsroom.
Just last month, Newmark went on the Digiday Podcast to explain why he’s giving millions to schools and journalistic programs across the country. “In the 1970s, my high school U.S. history and civics teacher taught us about the importance of a free press,” Newmark told Digiday Podcast host, Brian Morrissey. “A trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy.”
In his announcement with Howard University, Newmark echoed this sentiment: “All Americans deserve fair treatment, and to that end we need journalism that tells the truth, the diverse truth, in a way that benefits everyone. The Howard University journalism program will play a large role in telling that truth.”
Newmark, who got his start as a programmer for tech-giant IBM before moving on to start Craigslist, has also urged other major tech platforms to help with the fight against disinformation and declining journalism. “I think the big guys [Google and Facebook] should be doing more to help journalism,” said Newmark on Digiday’s Podcast. He went on to say, “I’d encourage the social media giants to do the easy stuff, to do what their own people are telling them they want, and then to be prepared to take a certain amount of heat. I can tell you it’s no fun to take that heat, especially if you’re subject to disinformation or even dirty tricks. But right now the country’s survival relies on the social media giants to stand up and do the right thing.”