McDonald’s may not be the best place to get nourishment for your body, but for one week at selected branches you could get some food for thought, in the form of a free newspaper.

That’s right, McDonald’s restaurants and the Japan Newspaper association have collaborated to bring you Spring Newspaper Week (April 6 to 12), which many are lauding as a glorious waste of time.

The purpose of Spring Newspaper Week is to combat the growing trend of young people not using newspapers.  Strangely, more and more younger people prefer reading their news on phones that fit in the palm of their hands rather than cumbersome sheets of paper that make their fingers black.

It’s understandable that the newsprint industry take measures against societal trends causing their product to become less and less relevant, but they should really put more effort into it than this.

Across Japan, one McDonald’s (that’s right, one) in each of the country’s 47 prefectures will take part in Spring Newspaper Week.  And each day from 7:00am to 10:00am they give a free newspaper with each order – at least, until the 100 order limit is reached.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie-downer on this campaign. Who doesn’t like free stuff? And if they’re willing to give it away in any quantity then more power to them.  I just can’t see what impact they are hoping for with this drop in the bucket approach.

It’s like they’re expecting the young students and workers who frequent McDonald’s are finally going to realize what they’ve known all along: You can’t squash a bug or annoy people sitting next to you on the train with your smartphone or tablet.  Once they spread the word to all their friends, newspaper companies will enjoy a whole new generation of subscribers.

I hope it works out for newspaper companies, but as Bob Dylan said “the times they are a changing” and the younger generation will continue to kill bugs with a shoe and annoy neighbors on the train by talking on their phones or stretching their legs wide apart.  And most likely they will continue to get their news from free web-based sources like RocketNews24.

Source: Kohoku Keizai Shinbun  (Japanese)