Piet Bakker monitors the world’s free papers

This is Piet Bakker, skating on a canal in the Netherlands.

What with global warming, skating on “natural ice” is not possible very often in the Netherlands, but for a change, right now every puddle, pond and canal is frozen, and the Dutch have been “on skates en masse.” One long distance-skating race was held for the first time in twelve years, and dozens of other races and tours (scroll down to map) drew such crowds that there were enormous traffic jams. The whole country was kind of a Woodstock on ice this weekend. (Full disclosure: I’m Dutch but for some reason never learned to skate.)

Anyway, that’s why Bakker is not blogging for a couple of days, but normally, he can be found at Newspaper Innovation, where he keeps tabs on the world’s free newspapers. Bakker is professor of Cross Media Content at the School of Journalism and Communication at the Hogeschool in Utrecht, the Netherland. (The blog is in English.)

As Bakker has reported, the free newspaper business has not been smooth skating lately. Free circulation in Europe has actually declined in 2008, as 11 titles and 37 editions closed down. The details of most free paper launches, closes and other transitions get chronicled almost obsessively in Bakker’s blog, and lately closings have dominated his reports. The blog also features links to the newsletter “Free Daily Newspapers”, a set of interactive maps, and a free dailies resource page.

All in all, it’s well worth adding Newspaper Innovation to your blog subscription feed to keep track of the free newspaper field and to catch Bakker’s insights.