Craigslist has just expanded its operations by 25% and is now serving 690 cities. The company added mid-sized cities like Susanville, CA, a town with a population of 18,000, to its list of cities being served. A recent news article also states:

If that expansion sounds minor, consider that Craigslist also added new sites for international cities like Lucknow, India (population 2.5 million), Shenzhen, China (14 million), and Newcastle, Australia, (280,000). Most of the sites are in English only. The pages start as virtual ghost towns, eerily devoid of people posting used furniture, apartment vacancies, job openings and Craigslist’s notorious sex ads.

A Craiglist spokeswoman, Susan Mactavish Best, alerted us to the move last night, but offered no additional comment. She said the chief executive, Jim Buckmaster, would add the new cities to the site’s official fact sheet later this month, and that it was conceivable that the company’s founder and “chief customer service representative,” Craig Newmark, did not even know about the change.

Where Craigslist goes, of course, the fortunes of local newspapers often plummet, since classified ads on the site can mostly be placed free.

This is where the newspapers are having problems. How do you compete with a service that is basically free? A service where people can find just about anything in their local area. Will Craigslist kill local newspapers?

Comments welcome.