Monday morning, MU joined more than 250 schools across the nation participating in USA Today’s Collegiate Readership Program. Copies of USA Today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times and the Columbia Missourian were distributed to all residence halls and Greek houses for students to read, almost free of charge.
“Our program originated at Penn State University because the president there felt that the students were in a bubble,” Lisa Trube, USA Today’s regional marketing director, said. The program was begun in 1997. “The goal of the program is two-fold: to enhance the education of the students by bringing real-world concepts into the classroom and to enhance the students’ understanding of what’s going on in the world outside of campus.”
The program is also intended to encourage a lifelong habit of reading newspapers. “Easy accessibility is what will get students to start reading the newspaper,” Trube said.
Though distribution figures will be adjusted on a daily basis, about 2,600 newspapers are being delivered each morning at the residence halls as well as 650 at fraternities and sororities.
“We want every student who wants a newspaper to get one,” Trube said.
“It’s going to have a really great effect for our readers and our advertisers,” said Dan Potter, the Missourian’s general manager. “The Missourian will be at many more locations around campus. It will give us significantly higher penetration on campus … and that’s important to advertisers, too, because that is a key target audience for a lot of advertisers in Columbia.”
A four-week pilot readership program had been tested in MU residence halls. Last January, the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved an increase of $3 per semester in student fees for a permanent readership program. Students voted on the readership program in the spring, but the vote, which included other issues, was later invalidated. Still, the readership program was instituted for a yearlong trial.
Students will have the opportunity to vote on whether to keep, change or get rid of the program in a vote planned for the end of the 2004 winter semester.
“We’ve never gotten anything but positive feedback on the program,” Brett Ordnung, president of the Missouri Students Association, said. “We wouldn’t have gone through with it if we didn’t think students wanted it.”
Collegiate Readership Program newspapers are available to both undergraduate and graduate students in bins at residence halls and Greek houses. By late September or early October, card-reading distribution machines will be placed at Brady Commons, Memorial Union, Ellis Library, the Student Recreation Center, the Black Culture Center, the Student Success Center, Pershing Hall, the School of Medicine and the College of Veterinary Medicine. The machines will ensure that only students with a valid student I.D. have access to the newspapers.