In the latest Monday Note, Frederic Filioux argues that within five years most newspapers will be given away --- that is, more than 50 per cent of a so-called paid newspaper will be provided freely somewhere (an airport lounge, a hotel, etc.). Of course, they're not exactly free --- someone has paid for them through sponsorship to ensure the auditors accept that copies are accounted for acceptably as paid circulation.
Filious argues this so-called hybrid newspaper model is arriving conveniently for newspapers to identify their target markets and satisfy them with free distribution. But he also argues that the social function of newspapers is in jeopardy as this new model arrives. He points out the class distinction between providing a paper free to a business traveler and requiring a struggling student in a less-affluent district to pay full price. Go too far in the targeting and that function will wither.