MSA rejects another newspaper readership program for the U

Chad Hamblin

For the second consecutive year, the Minnesota Student Association decided not to endorse a program that would bring a major newspaper to campus using Student Services Fees.

This year, The New York Times wanted to work with MSA on a readership program that would make its newspapers available for free on campus. MSA’s Academic and Services Committee voted 1-5, with two members abstaining.

Steve Wang, a committee member who voted against the program, said he agreed with the program’s intentions but did not think it was a good idea.

The readership program would hurt The Minnesota Daily, he said.

“The Daily is a student group, so it’s more of an asset than The New York Times is,” Wang said.

Rick Orr, the committee chairman, abstained from voting but still shared his opinions.

“I know a lot of people have frustrations with the Daily, but they do help out the campus,” he said.

Committee member Brian Peterson had a different reason for voting against the program.

“From my understanding, 100 percent of the people would be paying for something that 10 percent of the people will use,” Peterson said. “The New York Times is also available online.”

Kelly Ryberg, the only committee member who voted for the program, said she loved getting the “free” newspapers during last year’s trial USA Today Collegiate Readership Program. She also said she prefers other newspapers to The Daily.

“I like The New York Times, I respect The New York Times, I trust The New York Times, whereas the Daily is a joke,” Ryberg said. “The Daily is just a crap source for real news.”

Orr brought up the idea of writing a resolution stating MSA will not deal with any future readership programs.

Many committee members said this was a bad idea.

“I just feel uncomfortable restraining future MSAs,” Porter said.

Instead, the group decided to include a letter to future MSA members to discourage dealing with readership programs.

Still, Orr said he might try to sponsor a resolution refusing to deal with future readership programs.

“The idea of a resolution isn’t dead, either,” Orr said.

MSA President Tom Zearley said he felt the committee made the right decision.

“We wanted to make sure all the people who were greatly affected by it were involved,” he said.

Zearley said he liked the idea of a resolution refusing to work with readership programs but said it should be carefully worded so MSA could easily rescind it, if necessary.

In a prepared statement, the Daily’s Office of the Publisher said that although the paper “supports newspaper readership, we do not support the allocation of student fees to readership programs.”

Paul Wilson, education account manager at The New York Times, is responsible for the proposed readership program at the University.

Wilson said the Daily and The New York Times do not compete in terms of news coverage and advertising, and it would help to have its newspapers available to students for free on campus.

“It’s too bad,” he said, responding to news that MSA would not consider the program. “I think it would have been a good program for the school.”