During second half of 2009, The Hindu (newspaper) launched a major offensive against paid news phenomenon. I find the ill effects of paid news being greatly exaggerated in media.
First, it is wrong to assume that a reader blindly accepts news items. I believe that The Hindu is biased towards CPIM. That doesn’t prevent me from reading Hindu. I treat all political articles in Hindu with skepticism and look up other sources for alternate point of view. This enables me to get a balanced perspective. Same should apply for other readers and that will diminish the harms of paid/propaganda-news.
Second, paid-news does introduce bias in newspaper but bias in newspapers is natural. Sometimes bias can be due to ideology of editor. So why one should be overtly concerned about bias introduced through money?
Third, newspapers/media cannot change public opinion at its own will. An example is 2002 Gujarat elections. Most of the media went for the jugular of BJP government. However the election result showed that public has a mind of its own, which is not easily affected by newspapers.