Monday, July 02, 2007

Israel will soon have four free dailies

After years of declining readership and closures, it appears the newspaper business in Israel is changing.'s Sami Peretz says four free dailies will soon be operating in Israel — there's the "Israeli," owned by Shlomo Ben-Tzvi's and American billionaire Sheldon Adelson. It is circulated at gas stations and train depots. The two partners have had a falling out, and Adelson is starting a second free daily, called "Israel Today" or "Yisrael Hayom," which will go to mail boxes. And there will soon be two new papers from Arnon Mozes and the David Weissman-Eli Azur team that will be passed out at various point of sale, such as supermarkets.

Peretz writes:
    For journalists, this is wonderful. After years of cutbacks, we finally are receiving offers, and alternative employment opportunities are popping up - and that is good.

    As for publishers, this is all a big headache. They will now be exposed to serious salary demands, and will be forced to invest resources in improving and upgrading their products in order to adapt to the changing market.

    But all this is only in the short run.

    In the long run, there are still a lot of questions hovering around the newspaper business. It is hard to imagine that today's newspapers will keep their readership while the new freebies manage to flourish.

    The significance is that after a bloody one- to three-year fight, we will once again see the newspaper business shrink - in terms of both the number of papers and jobs for journalists.

    Only the best and the brightest - and the strong - will survive, because that is how it is in free-market capitalism. There may be free papers, but there are no free lunches.