A deal between student leaders and The New York Times will temporarily restore free newspapers on campus, after months of lobbying against the University’s decision to slash its daily delivery program last fall.
The month-long pilot coordinated by the Student Association will deliver between 200 and 300 newspapers to the Marvin Center each weekday starting Jan. 23, the organization’s president John Richardson said.
Until this fall, GW paid $52,000 per year for daily deliveries of the Times, USA Today and The Washington Post, through USA Today’s collegiate readership program.
Richardson felt USA Today’s package was too costly, so instead of rejoining the readership program, he decided to seek out subscriptions from news outlets individually. The leader said he lobbied the Times for months to reach a deal on the complimentary trial run. In the future, Richardson said the Times delivery program could be expanded to include The Post and USA Today, but he does not yet know if this partnership would cost less than the previous newspaper deal.
The Times will supply its newspapers for free to help gauge initial interest in the program, he said.
He is still working with the Times to negotiate a price for continuing daily delivery after the test run.
Newspapers will be delivered to the Student Association office in the Marvin Center and placed in a distribution box near J Street by members of the SA. They will also tally the number of leftover newspapers each day – figures Richardson said he would use to campaign for continuing the program at GW.
“If all the papers get picked up at the end of the day, it’s indicative of demand,” Rohan Batra, SA vice president of academic affairs, said. Last year, about 1,000 papers were delivered to the Marvin Center and residence halls across campus.
Batra told The Hatchet in October that the program’s data showed students picked up about 75 percent of the 140,000 papers delivered to campus last year. But with a much smaller number of papers distributed during the pilot, he expects every copy to leave the stand.
Even if the Student Association is able to demonstrate a high student demand, Richardson said he does not expect the University to foot the bill because of budgetary pressures throughout Student and Academic Support Services, the department that had paid for the program in past years. Instead, the junior will look to the Student Association’s funding pool – which was about $970,000 this year – to support the program.
Dean of Students Peter Konwerski told The Hatchet in October that the decision to cut the program was based on decreased interest in the program, as well as increased online activity among readers.