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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Paying for ‘free’ news

    As more and more people turn to the Internet for their daily source of news, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona are trying to ensure that students are able to keep up with national headlines by reading a newspaper. The issue is it could deter revenue streams for campus media outlets.

    ASUA Senator Emily Fritze said the new Collegiate Readership Program, sponsored by USA Today, encourages students to become aware of current events all over the world, as opposed to just campus related news.

    As part of this program, a copy of USA Today and the Arizona Daily Star are available to all UA students at various locations around campus for free.

    Because of the potential negative consequences and loss of advertising dollars for campus media, student media outlets at the UA and universities across the country are voicing their concern.

    “”The pilot program began on Tuesday, and so far it has been very successful,”” Fritze said. “”We had about 2000 copies of the Arizona Daily Star and USA Today, and at the end of the day all but 50 copies were picked up.””

    At the ASUA meeting Wednesday, Arizona Daily Wildcat Editor-in-Chief Nickolas Seibel spoke about his apprehension regarding subsidizing the USA Today and Arizona Daily Star.

    “”This is not because the Daily Wildcat is afraid of competition,”” Seibel said. “”We think that we deliver a quality product that is the best product for U of A students. We plan on doing that regardless of what happens.””

    The concern the Daily Wildcat has is that a competing local paper distributed for free on campus will hurt their already tight ad revenue, Seibel said.

    “”The biggest issue that college newspapers have with the Collegiate Readership Program is that it uses Student Fee Money or university funds, to support the largest newspaper corporation in the United States while none of those funds go to the university paper,”” Arizona Student Media Director Mark Woodhams said.

    UA student media currently does not receive any funding outside of advertisers, he said. In fact, Arizona Student Media pays the UA rent for the on-campus student media offices.

    “”If the student newspaper has to exist only on what it can generate on advertising revenue, why should an outside professionally run newspaper with professional marketing and sales people be subsidized?”” Kathy Lawrence, director of student media at University of Texas said. “”The universities don’t give funding to private companies, so why should they do it with newspapers?””

    As enthusiastic as ASUA is about this program, Fritze said they understand the concern of the Daily Wildcat and are willing to work with campus media in order to cause the least amount of disruption.

    “”The Daily Star is just in the pilot program. If having the Daily Star on campus becomes a problem (for the Daily Wildcat), we are looking for feedback because we can still make changes,”” Fritze said.

    Although the pilot program does not cost students money, the actual program, if passed by the Student Affairs committee, will compete for funding from the Student Affairs Fee in order to be permanently implemented.

    “”We are simply competing for a fee you are already going to pay. The representatives on the Student Affairs Committee vote to pass the proposal,”” Fritze said.

    USA Today representatives said they believe that there is no substantial competition between USA Today and the Daily Wildcat. Rather, they say that the two will complement each other.

    “”Generally, the response has been really positive,”” Jill Wright, USA Today director of higher education programs said. “”After two years of participating in the program, we have another survey and about 96 percent of students say that the program should remain on campus.””

    Lawrence said that other college newspapers, specifically Penn State’s media administration, found that the program hurt both their circulation and revenue.

    “”Frankly, newspaper readership in the niche market that we serve in the college community, as well as the daily market, is declining,”” Lawrence said. “”So of course commercial newspapers like USA Today would like to see an opportunity to get a little bump in circulation.””

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