The University of Rochester just got added to the list of schools that pay for newspapers for their students. We get free copies of the New York Times, the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester’s local paper), and USA Today, delivered Monday through Friday mornings. Although the Collegiate Readership Program is in a trial phase for now, I can only hope that it will become a permanent fixture on campus. As far as I can tell, students have been very receptive in the first three days. The lobby of my dorm is one of the places that newspapers can be found, and only a few copies of USA Today are left by the end of the day.
Although I and many other college students now get our news mainly from the internet, it is refreshing to have the option of an old-school newspaper. First off, the comic section and crossword are two integral parts of the paper that can’t be duplicated online. Also, a paper can be read in many places where it would be impractical to bring a computer. Try reading internet news while walking to class; that takes real coordination. I often pull the paper out and read a few articles if I get to class early, and I also read it when I’m riding the city bus to my volunteer job tutoring at one of the local schools. I know that I won’t read the paper everyday because I’m much too busy, but it is great to have the option.
My only gripe about the program is that money is being spent on USA Today, which seems to be the paper that people want to read the least. College students either want to read a real newspaper, such as the Times, or the local newspaper. USA Today is something that travelers read while staying in a hotel because they don’t care about local news. Unfortunately, USA Today is partly involved in bringing this program to campus. The Collegiate Readership Program name is theirs, and I’m almost sure that they are providing some monetary support for the program. The money would be better spent on more of the other two papers, though, as copies of those are usually gone before noon. However, I can’t complain too much, as fewer papers left means that more students are taking advantage of this worthwhile program.
Update: At 9:30am this morning, there were no copies of the New York Times left in my dorm. Luckily there were still piles in Wilson Commons.