OP-ED: Cancelling newspaper program a mistake

Raymond Arke | Editor-in-Chief

06/21/18

My Duquesne morning routine is pretty simple. Wake up, shower, get dressed, pick up a free New York Times and go to breakfast. Each weekday, every student had a choice of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, New York Times or  USA Today waiting for them in their dorm building, completely free. Both the Post-Gazette and the New York Times are paywalled online, which means Duquesne’s participation in the Collegiate Readership Program provided every student news for free, that we would have to pay a subscription for otherwise. That’s why I was so disappointed when I heard Duquesne was ending their participation in the program.

Not only is it a disruption to my morning routine, the problem is bigger than that. This was a great service that literally offered the world to students completely free of charge, and yet it was hardly advertised. Duquesne cites low readership as one of the reasons for scrapping it, but did you ever hear of it? Did you know it was available? Unless you’re a news dork like me, I can easily understand how someone could walk past a newsstand with little to no signage.

Yet, from my experience the newsstand in Vickroy would be empty or nearly empty almost everyday. People did find these little-advertised paper stacks. Students were picking up the papers, and I would often see faculty and staff reading them too. People used the program, less than they used to, probably, but it was still used.

Also, they say that the program’s cost contributed to its cancellation. Yet, Duquesne’s Student Government Association (SGA), which runs the program, keeps their budget process secret. There’s no public way of knowing how they appropriate funds. Even in this simple case, they, nor Duquesne, shared with us what the newspaper program cost.

Could it really be that much of a burden to supply several newsstands to keep students informed? We’ll never know as long as SGA refuses to let the student body know. According to the Fall 2017 SGA budgetary information obtained by The Duke, the SGA is able to spend $1,000 on their end-of-the-year banquet. Guess a fancy dinner is more important than an informed student population.

And they provide no information on where these apparently huge savings are going to go. We’re promised that the SGA can “make way for a better option for students.” Yet, as of now, there is no actual replacement plan. Will Duquesne students get the access to national news that Pitt, CMU and Penn State get? Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.

Furthermore, doing this over summer with zero student input seems unnecessary and just plain shady. Wouldn’t it have been better to actually ask the student population how/if they use a service directed for them, rather than yanking it away with not a word?

This is not to say most students get their information from print, I know they don’t. Even I read online news at times. However, it has been time and again shown that reading newspapers and print media is a healthier and smarter way of consuming news. Taking away this crucially important option is disappointing. It shows a lack of commitment to media literacy in an era of ill-informed attacks on the Fourth Estate.

Unless they miraculously listen and change their minds, yinz are stuck with The Duke as the only print news source on campus. And there’s no getting rid of us, like it or not! So all you print media fans, while you mourn the loss of this great program, we’re still here for your paper-turning needs.

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