Information wants to be free
Last night walking home I heard one of those free paper puishers, don't know which paper it was for, singing It's free, it's free - somewhat despondantly, it has to be said. Of course, those papers aren't free, that's teh genius - it costs me my time to walk round the paper-pushers (who really do walk into your path and stick a bloody paper under your nose), it takes me time to politely decline their offer - it would take me time to accept the damn thing, read it, and put it in the bin when finished with (f only people would put them in the bin...sigh).
The factsn are, these sheets are largely advertising, with some celeb news and a toucxh of real news segued in. Their real consumer is the advertiser, followed by the owners who hope to gain political influence through their paper. The reading public are put upon, the product sold to the adertisers.
This is true of all commercial media, the little bit behind the free market fluff - the viewers are not the consumers, the viewing figures are a means to the end of selling airtime to the advertisers - our consciousness, our consciences and our sentience is being sold day in day out by Murdoch et al to their fellow capitalists.
Other papers, like the ever splendid CNJ which at least waits for you to come to it in stands on a street corner, you go to because you want to consult them as a reference source (hopefully my letter this week) - voluntarilly investing the effort of reading. The so-called free papers spread like a virus under a lie of their freeness.
Milton Friedman may not have coined it, but he was right - there is no such thing as a free newspaper.