The Collegiate Readership Program trial period ended on Friday, but the Rochester Center for Community Leadership said that some form of the program will, in all likelihood, be back next semester. For those students and faculty members who enjoyed grabbing a paper in their spare time over the past four weeks, this is music to their ears. Not everyone has been thrilled with the program, however, as some students have expressed concerns with the costs and questioned the benefits.
The importance of a free and readily available journalistic source for students cannot be overstated. While many students get their morning headlines from online sources, this is not always the comprehensive news source that the printed word can provide. In fact, many news Web sites, including the New York Times’, offer their premium content only to paying members of the site. The print versions of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the New York Times and USA Today offer students the easiest access to a variety of journalism, and that cannot be overlooked at an institution that intends to shape its students into well-rounded and educated citizens.
Also, it is clear that RCCL and the Students’ Association have collected the necessary data from this trial to formulate a plan that is both fiscally responsible and beneficial to students. These groups know how many of each newspaper were taken off of each rack on any given day throughout the four-week period. In addition, they conducted surveys at both the beginning and end of the trial period to gauge the student body’s newsgathering habits as well as their interest in the program. RCCL Assistant Director of Operations Bryan Rotach has said that the groups will use this data to create a modified program that best suits both the school’s and the student body’s interests. Based on the time and effort already put in by all of those involved and the extensive amount of data collected, there’s no reason to believe otherwise.
The Collegiate Readership Program is by no means perfect. It costs a significant amount of money and requires that those involved in the program here add it to their already heavy workload. However, the benefits clearly outweigh the costs, as shown by the approximately 4,000 papers that flew off the racks each week. RCCL and the SA should be applauded for their commitment to such an all-important project.