Two university offices have canceled subscriptions to the New York Times readership program that provided students access to more than 200 daily Monday to Friday national editions of the newspaper.
Student Activities and Residential Life both purchased papers through the program, which is a nationally run collegiate service that distributes free copies of the New York Times to more than 200 student bodies, according to a brochure on the paper’s college education website.
Chris Carey, associate director of Student Activities, said there were fears that the subscriptions his office purchased and distributed in the Howard Gittis Student Center were being picked up mostly by non-students, including administrators and faculty. The 75 daily copies distributed by Student Activities cost $5,524 a year, Carey said.
“It would be a better fit for a classroom, not something Student Activities is fit to program,” Carey said.
Residential Life did not respond to questions about the cost and specific number of copies they purchased and distributed in the lobbies of student residence halls, which are mostly closed to faculty and students who do not live in the halls.
The New York Times readership program also offers classroom subscription services.
At least one Temple professor currently requires students to read the New York Times. Scott Gratson, director of the communications program who teaches argumentation in the School of Media and Communication, requires that students read the New York Times in order to prepare for current events quizzes and debates on international and domestic issues.
“More people can say who is the on ‘The Bachelor’ than who is the president of Iran,” Gratson said, and specifically praised the New York Times for its lengthy international section.
Gratson also uses the New York Times as director of the New York City study away program, which offers internships and course opportunities at Manhattan Marymount College. Students in this program are required by Gratson to use the New York Times to prepare for living and communicating in the city.
While Gratson doesn’t require students to purchase a subscription, he said in an email that the “decision [to cancel the program] makes it harder for them, assuredly.”
“I find it absolutely inane,” Gratson said of the recent cuts to the readership program.
In addition to the class subscriptions, the New York Times also offers digital subscriptions that allow students to connect through university servers to the New York Times website, or through mobile application access. The newspaper currently restricts online views to 10 articles per month for those without a digital subscription.
Universities that subscribe to its readership program are also eligible to receive a guest speaker from the New York Times to talk to students. Last year, Jim Rutenberg, a political reporter for the New York Times, came to Temple and gave a lecture, “An Analysis of the Contemporary Republican Party in the Age of the Tea Party,” at the Student Center.
In April, Andrew Mendelson, chairman of the Journalism Department in the School of Media and Communication, spoke to The Temple News regarding the then-proposed cuts.
“I guess in an age of belt tightening I’m not surprised,” Mendelson said. “I would say that most students who read news do so online. I think that news is available, that [newspapers are] a dated concept.”
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.