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craigslist and alt-weeklies

A long, long time ago—also known as “the early nineties”—former Village Voice owner Leonard Stern had a brilliant idea. This idea concerned the classifieds section—also known as “the cashbox”—of his weekly newspaper.

The Voice’s classifieds had a lock on a young and mobile market. It also had entire categories that individual parties used, maybe, once a year. So: Why not substantially increase classified rates? People who place one ad a year won’t even notice. People who have to be in the classifieds every week—like real estate brokers touting rentals downtown—don’t have anywhere else to go. After all, who was the competition? The then-nascent New York Press, which had a classifieds section a fraction of the size of the Voice’s? The Times—assuming Times’ real estate section would start acknowledging the existence of people under the age of 40 whose net worth was under $1 million?