Free Newspapers

In a short time The Netherlands saw its population of free daily national newspapers double: from two (Spits and Metro) to four (with De Pers and Dag). Metro and De Pers are "unaffiliated" projects, while Spits (De Telegraaf) and Dag (PCM/De Volkskrant) were countermoves of established newspaper publishers.

The new free dailies started their editions with interviews with my good friend, former colleague, and top expert on free newspapers Piet Bakker (check his blog on the topic: Newspaper Innovation) and, well, me (see articles on the sites of DAG and De Pers). On top of that, the financial/economic newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad interviewed us on the topic, too (July 5, 2007). That particular is NOT free, and the interview does not seem to be available online.

But, no worries: Spits editor-in-chief (and fellow Eindhovenaar as well as pragmatic visionary when it comes to the future of journalism) Bart Brouwers has been cool enough to reprint the entire piece on his blog.

News is free. It is beyond commodification. There is, however, a real market for in-depth reporting, investigative journalism and deeply informed/richly contextual critical analysis. So I predict newspapers either to become free (in order to compete for advertising and retain a mass audience share), or to charge more money for access to journalism of high quality and real depth.