Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I'm glad I'm not in the paid-for newspaper business

For the first time in several months, I failed to finish last week's Economist before this week's arrived.

There were a couple of reasons:

Firstly, I'm listening to more podcasts. Indeed, the second part of Russ Roberts' interview with Milton Friedman is the first podcast I ever recall looking forward to.

Secondly, there are now more free newspapers in London than I know what to do with: Metro and City AM in the mornings, "The Wharf" and "The Docklands" once a week near home and "London Lite" and "thelondonpaper" now in every evening.

Thus, the twenty minute periods I used to spend reading the Economist are now spent speed-reading the free-sheets or listening to PodCasts.

The idea of buying a daily newspaper no longer even occurs to me.

Andy comments that he hasn't seen any of the evening papers yet. For what it's worth, London Lite sucks but thelondonpaper is surprisingly good.  Given that Associated (publishers of London Lite) need to protect their 50p-a-day Evening Standard whereas News International (publishers of thelondonpaper) are trying to destroy the Standard, perhaps none of this is surprising.

Andy also asked why the free papers (with the exception of Metro) were unavailable inside train stations. The answer (as far as I know) is that Transport for London view the right to distribute papers in their stations as valuable and so auction it. They sold the rights to the morning rush hour to Metro and will shortly be doing the same in the evening. Until they do, nobody has the right to distribute free papers inside their stations - hence all the people outside zone one stations thrusting papers at you.

My advice: take a "thelondonpaper" and politely refuse London Lite.


Andrew Ferrier said...

Richard, I agree, I found the interview with Friedman to be excellent. For a man in his 90s, he is remarkably astute.

Incidentally, the TV series he mentioned, 'Free to Choose', is available for free on Google Video:

I haven't watched it yet but have added it to the list.

Richard Brown said...

I really should watch that show. I've read the book (you're welcome to borrow it if you haven't already read it) but it would be good to see him in action.

As for being in his nineties... I hope I'm even half as sharp when I'm that age.

GEB said...

Richard, please tell me this isn't the same Milton Friedman whose ideas Margaret Thatcher followed- monetarism. It was a disaster for the country. We are still recovering from its blight all these years later.I admit I have not read the article so he may have mellowed and I may be misjudging him. Look back at the Thatcher era record and how those policies impacted on various social groups if you don't believe me.

Andrew Ferrier said...

I really hope he hasn't mellowed. I find him an admirable man and a great moral leader as well as economist.

Richard Brown said...


I think part of the perception problem (in the UK at least) is due to the public at large failing to distinguish between the effects of the various policies that were implemented in the eighties - and also of failing to compare the effects against what otherwise would have happened rather than against how things were before.