There was a time, not long ago, when regular newspapers were disdainful of freebies, the newspapers that are given away at bus and railway stations. Some were accused of adding to the litter in the streets. Today, things are changing. The regular newspapers and the giveaways are going into partnership. One of the more unusual deals, just announced, is between the New York Times and Metro International, which publishes free daily papers in several cities in the US. The plan is that the New York Times will share some of its classified ads with the Metro paper that's handed out gratis around New York.
The aim, it's claimed, is to broaden the Times's ads so they reach younger consumers who do not normally read traditional newspapers. Also, of course, to generate more income for both companies. The ads, in general, will cover jobs, real estate, cars and general merchandise.
For advertisers, the attraction is their ads should reach a broader audience. In fact, the difference in readership between the two publications seems to be more in reading habits than demographics. Readers of Metro New York have an average age of 36 and their average income is more than $87,000 – or around £50,000 pounds.
Average age of readers of The Times is just under 44, with an average income of $88,500.
Newspapers analysts say that large metropolitan newspapers in the US, if they are to survive, must seek new distribution channels – if only to blunt the competition from free alternatives on the web such as Craigslist. "This is part of the trend," says John Morton, an independent newspaper analyst, quoted by the New York Times.