(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – As of August, UCM no longer offers the New York Times newspapers on campus.
In the past, students could walk in the union and just grab a paper off the newsstand, but now since they aren’t available, some students including Zach Terrell, senior digital media production major, are not happy because it was the only place that had the New York Times available in this area.
“Obviously I’m disappointed, especially because when I last checked into getting them at my house, it said that they didn’t deliver print copies to Warrensburg,” Terrell said.
Beth Rutt, the director of student activities, said the decision was based on expense, budget reduction and limited readership. She said with the drop in enrollment this year, the budgets funded by student fees such as student activities—which funds the Student Government Association—experienced a drop in access to financial security. Rutt said the Times had raised their price from 48 cents to a dollar per copy on weekdays and 3 dollars per copy on weekends.
“The projections for the 2017, 2018 budget given last year and then compared to the actual budget funds, we have a shortfall of around $65,000,” Rutt said. “This means that the groups that are allocated funding from this line of student fees received less funding for their projects.”
The Times was free for students through SGA by the readership program, which pays for the Kansas City Star, USA Today and formerly the Times. She said the readership program costs SGA $26,000 a year. Rutt said the majority of the Times was not being read by the students.
“We had 100 papers delivered a day and the average pick up was around 70 per day,” Rutt said. “The majority of the papers were being picked up by faculty and retired faculty, community members or alumni, not current students. I have not had any students mention the lack of New York Times. Students have access now to the app and this seems to meet their need.”
Samantha Knaeble, junior graphic design major, said the Times was nice to have at UCM for students to read from a print newspaper, versus online.
“I picked some up whenever I was around the library usually, it was nice to flip through one and have some coffee. I know I can always go online and look at it but I like being able to physically hold a newspaper sometimes,” Knaeble said.
Terrell said having the Times on campus is important for college students who need a reliable source for national news.
“It felt like the proper college life to be staying informed by one of the most respected news sources in the world,” Terrell said. “Information is always worth it. And at the very least, having something readily available that is known for being at the top of their craft in the top of their field adds a different and important reason altogether.”
Knaebel said wants the Times back on campus and said UCM should find a way to have the budget for the school to get the subscription back.
“I understand if they don’t want to continue getting them if they think there aren’t many students reading them. But then I think they would be nice to have around for the few students that still enjoy them.”
Rutt said UCM could get the Times back if some partnerships were developed so that just one group wasn’t bearing the cost.
“I think the New York Times is designed for a specific audience,” Rutt said. “Perhaps those departments that reference the paper in class could consider building some budget dollars toward the subscription cost to help SGA.”
Rutt said it is still important for college students to read newspapers such as the Times, because “snippet” papers such as USA Today are for more of the on-the-go information but students can’t experience the detail in the more traditional newspaper.
“Reading keeps your mind alert and challenged,” Rutt said. “Newspapers are one of the few places where you can get objective information and perspective. It is still, I think, a worthwhile mode of communicating information to our communities.”
Nickey Buzek, senior public relations major, said it is important for college students to read the Times because traditional media outlets give students examples of structured writing that engage with mass audiences.
“Speaking from a PR student perspective, reading news from sources like the New York Times enhances my writing and thinking capabilities,” Buzek said. “What I can say is that there comes a point when businesses have to take the education of America into their own hands when budget cuts affect even our news outlets. The New York Times should find a way to work with universities and vice versa.”