The Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) recently announced that it has expanded availability of The New York Times (NYT) for the University community to the paper’s online edition. While the NYT Readership Program had provided four hundred free paper copies on weekdays to students and faculty at several sites on campus, the WSA’s new subscription now includes two hundred paper copies. These newspapers will continue to be available at Usdan, the Public Affairs Center (PAC), and outside Pi Café. Additionally, a maximum of four hundred simultaneously logged-in readers will have access to the online edition.
WSA Vice President and Chair of the Organization and External Affairs Committee Mari Jarris ’14 said that the decision to subscribe to the new service was both financially motivated and an effort to broaden availability of the paper.
“[The WSA wants] to enable people to know what’s going on outside the Wesleyan bubble,” Jarris said. “As soon as the paper copies were gone, students didn’t have access to the paper.”
NYT developed the new paper-online combination subscription service as a program specifically for universities. The cost to the institution includes a speaker series for which NYT will send its reporters and writers to campus.
After the University stopped funding the NYT Readership Program in 2008, a parent of a student anonymously donated funds to continue the program. According to Jarris, with the depletion of those funds the WSA opted for the less costly paper-online package offered by NYT.
Whereas the operating budget for last year’s program of four hundred paper-only copies amounted to $15,000, this year’s combination subscription will cost $10,000. The funding for this year’s subscription includes $440 left over from the 2008 parent’s donation and $100 given by the East Asian Studies department. This was the only department that chose to contribute to the NYT Readership Program, after the WSA solicited funding for the program from all of the University’s departments. The Student Budget Committee (SBC) funded the remaining $9,460 needed for the paper-online subscription to the program.
The WSA’s transition to the new subscription comes on the heels of NYT’s announcement that it is considering a shift in its institutional subscriptions to an all-online service beginning in 2014. According to Jarris, if NYT continues to offer paper copies, then the WSA will have to consider whether or not to shift completely to an online subscription.
“The WSA will use this transition year to determine what works best,” Jarris said.
She added that the organization will be able to track usage of the online subscription through data provided by NYT and by surveys the WSA will conduct throughout the year.
“I have little to no doubt that the program will be successful,” wrote WSA Community Outreach Chair Syed Ali ’13, who last year served as the organization’s Information Technology Committee Chair, in an email to The Argus. “The New York Times tends to be the most highly-referenced newspaper on campus (other than The Argus, of course), whether it be in academic or social contexts. Many students already read The Times online, either through paid subscriptions or circumventing the paywall. Ideally, this program will eliminate the need for members of the Wesleyan community to do either.”
Ali observed that the move to more online access and fewer print copies has advantages for the environment. He also noted that there are other advantages of electronic access for the students themselves.
“Online articles are more easily bookmarked and disseminated through social media,” Ali wrote. “Accessing the paper online, without even having to leave your room, is at least a nice option.”
Sade Jack ’14 expressed her enthusiasm about having free unrestricted access to NYTimes.com. She pointed out that while the article limit for the NYT website several months ago was 20 per month, that ceiling has now been lowered to 10 articles a month.
“I don’t have to pick and choose which articles I want to read,” Jack said.
The Times began to charge for unlimited access to its website in March 2011. Its regular subscription rate for individuals is currently $15 per four weeks, bringing the annual cost to $195. A 50 percent discount is available for college students and faculty.
Members of the University community who wish to access The Times online must register at https://myaccount.nytimes.com/verification/edupass using their Wesleyan email address, and sign in and out of the portal. Users will be logged out automatically after 24 hours.