GW is situated in the center of U.S. politics. With political science courses taught by experts in the field, student organizations dedicated to political involvement and an array of political leaders speaking steps from students’ residence halls, the University is positioned to prepare students to be informed citizens.
But if GW wants to best prepare its students for post-college life and expand their knowledge of current events, the University should provide them with free access to reliable digital media sources. Digital subscriptions to The New York Times, The Washington Post or The Wall Street Journal – or all three – would advance students’ awareness of local and national issues and support their education.
As a cornerstone of political science education in the District, the University needs to provide students with access to top media outlets if it wants to best educate the next generation of political thinkers.
GW ended a program in 2011 that provided daily deliveries of The Washington Post, The New York Times and USA Today to students. But officials should bring a similar program back that provides digital access to the organizations’ websites because students need the service now more than ever.
Over the past few years, the press has come under attack. The media, once a constant moderating force in American politics, is seeing its influence erode. From the violent torture and killing of Washington Post correspondent Jamal Khashoggi to the White House’s continued disrespect for journalists, the media is facing critique from the political left and right.
With growing concerns of “fake news” online, students need access to media sources that provide accurate news bolstered by strong and fair reporting. In a 2016 study by Stanford University, U.S. high school students failed to determine the difference between a real and fake Facebook news article. Even Stanford’s own students, who attend one of the nation’s most selective universities, could not identify key differences between the real and fake article. This shows that students could benefit from advanced media training and need access to reliable news without financial barriers.
The University offers free unlimited usage of the Adobe Suite, Google Drive, HBO GO and Philo, a TV streaming service, but many of these resources are explicitly for personal entertainment. If GW can easily afford these entertainment services, it can surely provide digital news subscriptions that would actually be beneficial to students.
Providing three top newspapers to students would not be an enormous financial burden for the University, especially considering the school is operating on a $60 million surplus for the second year in a row. GW spends money each year to ensure students have access to top tier faculty and other educational resources so students can expand upon what they learn in the classroom, so GW should also invest in teaching students about current affairs – especially today.
Having free digital access to these world-renowned newspapers would give students a better understanding of current events around the world and in the District. Faculty could better educate their students using current events as examples, but they cannot do that effectively because not all students can afford to subscribe to numerous outlets.
One could purchase individual subscriptions to these newspapers, but even for students, yearly rates are about $60 for The Washington Post and $48 for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Coupled with GW’s expensive housing and pricey tuition, these costs can be painful for some students.
Some of GW’s peer universities, like Boston and Georgetown universities, offer free digital subscriptions to students. Boston University’s College of Communication now offers free digital capabilities to staff, faculty and students for The New York Times, The Boston Globe and USA Today.
If the University seeks to best educate its students and faculty on the ever-changing political news in our nation, it must provide digital subscriptions to top news outlets.
Zachary Nosanchuk, a freshman majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet opinions writer.
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