Free newspapers or free wifi - which appeals more?

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 11 August 2009

Yesterday morning I was walking up York Way heading to Kings Place when I noticed this chalkboard offering a 'sunny terrace' and 'newspapers' as attractions at The Fellow.

Sign for The Fellow

Not much further up the road is the Lincoln Lounge, and their chalkboard was offering 'free wifi'.

Sign for the Lincoln Lounge

My head was full of thoughts about paywalls and physical news products at the time, and a couple of things occurred to me.

Firstly, I remember a time when most Internet access in public places was paid for, and the content was free. As we move into an era where it seems that free wifi is edging towards the ubiquitous, I wonder whether we will actually end up with a model where the access is free, but the content is paid for.

And secondly, despite being a totally confirmed technophile, I couldn't help but think that sitting out on a sunny terrace with a pint reading a printed newspaper sounded so much more appealing than hunching over my laptop enjoying free wifi.

Read more of my articles about the future of news

8 Comments

The Fellow has free wifi too - you just have to ask behind the bar for the WEP key and they'll give you a little card with it on, so you can have the best of both worlds!

I guess The Fellow feels the same way you do. :) I hope they will receive your patronage soon!

That is almost as bad as using the free WIFI while sitting in the uncomfortable booths at McDonalds.

Hmm... I must admit I'd probably opt for the free wifi unless it was weekend and I had plenty of time. Especially now that I carry an Asus Eee Netbook with me everywhere. It was bought in desperation when my new Lenovo gave me all sorts of grief, still waiting for it to be replaced, but the netbook is a delight and means I can even surf comfortably online while on the bus, on the beach etc.

Although I've been using the web for over a decade I still feel awkward pulling out my laptop in public. On the other hand, the only time I ever read newspapers are when I'm eating Sunday breakfast at a cafe. I guess for me relaxation means a bit of time *away* from the web.

The thing is, WIFI is only of use if you have your laptop - with enough charge - with you!

What I find funny is that more people will gravitate towards the free wifi, however I have realized something totally different while traveling. I love airports that have free wifi (screw you JFK), however when I see newspapers lying around the place I tend to end up reading them more than using my laptop. It maybe that I am trying to kill boredom, but I end up reading something that I have not read before. With the laptop people generally tend to go to the same old sites, newspapers offer a break from the norm. I still say Free Wifi though :)

For me it's very easy, FREE WI-FI i find it easy to choose because i enjoy my time online more than anything, this is my opinion so i dont know about the rest of you

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