Students living in residence halls will receive free issues of USA Today, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal in an effort to boost student readership, according to a letter from President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg addressed to students.
GW will provide students with 1,600 copies of each of the national daily papers Monday through Friday in open bins located in the lobbies of 18 residence halls. The number of papers provided will fluctuate throughout the year in response to student demand.
GW will purchase the three daily papers at a reduced rate and offer the papers free of charge to residents.
The program focuses on increasing readership around campus to give students more access to information pertinent to class work and lectures and a better awareness of current issues, according to Trachtenberg’s letter to students.
“Our goal is to have a paper available for every student that wants one,” said Susan Urquhart, national accounts manager of USA Today.
Residents expressed mixed emotions about the new program.
“It will be nice to have newspapers downstairs, but I doubt I’ll get up in time to get one,” Fulbright resident Brad Stein said.
GW took the initiative toward creating a new program that will provide one daily paper to about every three students living on campus, said Barbara Porter, GW’s director of public affairs.
The GW program follows a recent trend sparked by a rule change from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The rule change allows newspapers to count bulk-rate sales to universities in their circulation statistics.
Penn State became the first university to use this new circulation method last year when it worked with USA Today to provide free issues of its paper, The Wall Street Journal and a local city paper to students.
USA Today, which holds similar contracts for the 1999-2000 school year with four other universities, allowed GW to select two other newspapers to include in the readership program, Porter said.
“The reason we didn’t pick The (Washington) Post or (The Washington) Times is because we didn’t want to pick something that students could get around the corner,” Barbara Porter said.
While readership of newspapers that do not deliver door-to-door in residence halls is projected to increase, questions remain about the possibilities for city papers with success in door-to-door sales with college residents.
The Washington Post, which traditionally sells more subscriptions to GW students than to any other university, does not plan to provide newspapers to universities in bulk because of its success with door-to-door sales, Circulation Sales Development Manager Jay O’Hare said.
“I think that readership will go up,” O’Hare said. “The USA Today, New York Times and Wall Street Journal have always been available, but whether students went and bought them is another story.”