While I do applaud the goals of the new Collegiate Readership Program, I think that it is a bad idea.
I believe that the program automatically assumes that most Rochester students do not read the news and are not aware of current events. That is not true at all because I know plenty of people who read the news. However, they read the news in the same fashion that is causing newspaper readership to plummet across the nation – online.
For example, my homepage has links to the most popular news items on Yahoo!, as well as links to the Chicago Sun-Times (so I know what is happening back home) and the New York Times, all of which I glance at several times a day (although I usually save the New York Times for Sundays or when I have time to spare because of the sheer volume of articles they have available). I am able to catch up on the world around me without having to go out and find a newspaper.
And it doesn’t stop there. I have seen students on this campus read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Democrat and Chronicle and various other regional newspapers – just not in the traditional paper form. The BBC Web site is one of the first places people think of when it comes to reliable international news. And, if you are an international student, you most likely already read foreign news sources from your home country online. I won’t even get into the multitude of blogs out there to read.
And let’s not forget about television. Students have access to the BBC, two CNN stations, FOX News, MSNBC, CNBC, several C-SPANs as well as regular network news. Rochester even has its own 24-hour news station. Most stations and channels even have their own Web sites so people can stay informed online. And although it isn’t exactly the point of the two shows, plenty of people really do get their news from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report.
In the first couple of weeks of the program, students have been reading the provided newspapers, which is good. However, in order to truly be able to digest a newspaper, you have to be able to sit down and read it. How many undergrads have the time during the day to sit down and actually read a newspaper?
Undergraduates don’t even have enough time during the day to do the reading for their own classes! Therefore, most students who take these papers (with the exception of those who will read them during lunch or something), will carry them around all day and wait to read them when they get back to their dorms. By that time, the news won’t exactly be current, so what will these students do to check up on any events they may be interested in? Go online!
In the long run, after the novelty of the newspapers being on campus wears off, will the Collegiate Readership Program actually change how informed and connected Rochester students are to the world around them? Most likely not, because it’s going to take a lot more than a few newspapers placed around campus to make the uninterested interested. In two weeks, the papers have gone from hard to get to there being copies to spare.
If people were truly interested in reading actual newspapers, then they would read the copies of the Democrat and Chronicle and the Washington Post already supplied by Student Activities in Wilson Commons. I have seen more faculty and staff with newspapers than students, so who is truly benefiting from this program?
What is going to happen to all of these extra newspapers if the program is continued – excess garbage will accumulate around places like the Pit, creating more work for employees who have to keep these places clean. Then there is a question of if these papers are really going to be recycled or if are we creating more waste. This may be off topic, but the possible mark this may leave on the Earth is something that should be considered.
Like I said in the beginning of this article, I really do approve of and praise the Students’ Association and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership for trying to get more students aware of current events. But maybe, just maybe, the majority of students are more aware than stereotypes make us seem.