Web publishing is a tipsy topsy world, full of paradoxes and contradictions. On any given week, the experts of the publishing world tout the benefits of keeping the news free. But that's not this week. No sir-ee. This week free content goes bust.

Free Newspapers in a Free Fall

The New York Times reported that "the free newspaper business has gone into free fall" since the economic crisis last fall. Because they rely solely on advertising, free newspapers have had to contend with a sharp decrease of ad revenue, which has fallen by more than a third in recent months, compared with a year earlier.

Cutbacks are certain. Even Metro International, one of the largest publishers of free newspapers, which publishes free metro dailies and weeklies to more than 100 cities around the world, is restructuring, selling some of its papers.

Readers Become Users

Speaking of the New York Times, AdAge investigated the semantics of the Time "readers." In Timespeak, readers are referred to as users. The revelation was made by Derek Gottfrid, senior software architect and product technologist while speaking at the CaT: Creativity and Technology conference.

The intentional word change came as their site evolved and they started to create a more dynamic online experience. By opening up application programming interfaces, outside developers can create tools for Times consumers.

By thinking of the reader as a user, the world of collaboration opens wide. Whether it's social media or other web 2.0 technologies, the time is right for newspapers to embrace the culture of collaboration. Yet, so many don't.

Or so says Ann All of ITBusinessEdge. She says newspapers "spend more time lashing out at Google, blogs and other media they feel are responsible for their decline than in trying to come up with workable solutions moving forward or to address issues such as a lack of expertise in search engine optimization."

Gary Andrew Poole agrees. Sort of. The True Slant columnist offers up another perspective on the troubles facing the print publishing industry. He says that it's not the web's fault, but rather publishers. He says that publishers "need to change the circa 1875 business model, stop flooding the market with poorly edited books, and learn modern marketing techniques."

No matter how you say, it's pretty clear, adapt strategically or disintegrate.