Fewer newspapers on campus

Members of the University of San Diego community express concern about the

shrinking stacks of newspapers around campus

Tayler Reviere Verninas/The USD Vista

Several members of the student body and faculty at the University of San Diego have displayed concern for the decreasing number of print newspaper copies distributed across campus.

The main news sources provided on the newspaper stands include The USD Vista, the San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today, and The New York Times.  These stands are a part of the Collegiate Readership Program implemented at USD in 2007 by Associated Students.

Junior Austin Hammer noticed that the newspaper rack outside of Aromas has been removed.

“Occasionally, I like to grab a newspaper as I walk in and read over the daily happenings in Torero land,” Hammer said. “It doesn’t seem right that they don’t have the newspapers outside [of Aromas] anymore because people like to read the newspapers in the coffee shops.”

Roger Pace, Ph.D., of the Communication Studies Department stated that the standard of journalism is still the daily paper.

“The best of the online news sources are staffed by trained reporters who were schooled in journalistic methods and ethics at daily papers,” Pace said. “Those without such experience often rush to judgement or to post without careful collaboration of their ideas, or a seasoned editor who provides oversight.  This disregard to basic journalistic inquiry leads to confusion, misstatements, and often intention fraud. In all news forms and in all news stories, journalistic integrity is paramount.”

Pace said he believes this is true within the current political situation.

“Most often, the breaking stories out of Washington originate with the NY Times or the Washington Post whose experienced reports are validating their information in time-honored journalistic practice,” Pace said. “Having the papers on campus gives our students the opportunity to access the original sources of those reports and not just the digital spin of social media.”

AS President TJ Hodges explained the regulation for newspapers, which are stacked and charged by USA Today.

“Each day USA Today adds newspapers to all of our racks on campus,” Hodges said. “We don’t get charged for those newspapers. Instead, we get charged for the newspapers that are taken by the end of the day. So if a student does not take a newspaper off the rack, then we don’t pay for it. USA Today’s goal is to provide just the right amount of newspapers so that there’s not a big surplus, but also not a situation where a student wants a paper but can’t find one [because] they lose potential sales if that happens.”

According to Hodges, Associated Students pays USA Today for the Collegiate Readership Program. He stated that USA Today’s ideal situation is to have one NYT, U-T, and USA Today newspaper left on the stand at the end of the day.

“If students are noticing that there are no newspapers for them to grab, that could be an issue with USA Today’s forecasting methods, and I can bring it to their attention that it seems there are students hoping to read the paper but not having any available,” Hodges said. “If it just looks like the stacks are smaller, that could be the result of a decline in students reading the paper, which might make sense because we are getting deeper into the year and semester, and students may not be maintaining their readership habits as they did earlier.”

Peter Marlow, the Associate Vice President of University Communications, commented on the amount of newspaper available to students.

“If there is a perception of a decline in anything, it is certainly not because the university wants there to be a decline,” Marlow said. “Let’s figure out if there truly is a decline and rectify that. The whole point was to get information in the students’ hands and how do we go about doing that most effectively.”

Professor Michael Canepa of the Communication Studies Department, who had a 33-year career at the Union-Tribune, shared his view on having print news on campus.

“I always tell my students to gather news from as many different outlets as possible – print, digital and broadcast,” Canepa said. “Then process the information and form your own opinions. Don’t let anyone – or any one news source -– tell you what to think. Having a printed newspaper on campus is important because it supplies another voice.”

Canepa stated the need for print media.

“There are still a lot of terrific print journalists, both locally and nationally, who are doing phenomenal work,” Canepa said. “We all benefit from what they do, so it’s important that the industry survives. For me, I tend to read more and have much better comprehension when looking at an actual newspaper as opposed to a computer or cell phone screen. Print is just easier on my eyes.”

As a former page designer for the Union-Tribune, Canepa shared some insight on the hard work that goes into print newspapers.

“I can tell you first hand that there is a lot of thought that goes into how the paper looks and how the stories are presented,” Canepa said. “We used a lot of visuals—photos, graphics, and charts—to make the paper inviting and give the reader an element they might not get when reading a story on their iPhone.”

Hammer shared how the university could offer alternative forms of receiving news.

“It’s important that students have access to news and keep themselves updated,” Hammer said. “If they don’t have paper media on campus anymore, they should at least supply some kind of digital media via email on a daily basis.”

With fewer print copies available to pick up on campus, Toreros might have to resort to paying for papers elsewhere or reading The New York Times online, which students were given a free year-long subscription to by Associated Students.

Senior Miri Taylor prefers to read The New York Times papers offered in print on campus.

“I think it is important for our students to stay informed, and reading the newspaper is a great way to do that instead of looking at your phone or on Facebook,” Taylor said. “Personally, I like print.”

Newspaper stands can be found either inside or outside of campus dining locations, as well as outside of Copley Library and Vistas Residential housing. The missing rack that was previously outside of Aromas Cafe has been brought to the attention of the Associated Students President, who is looking into the issue.