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Student Council plans newspaper initiative

Organization hopes to bring USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post subscriptions to Grounds for four-week trial period

Student Council introduced a measure last night that potentially would bring a free pilot program to distribute professional newspapers at the University. The four-week trial program would distribute USA Today as well as two other newspapers around Grounds. The measure ultimately was tabled for the time being because the bill's sponsor, College Representative Marco Segura, said he wanted to debate the bill after the newly elected administration takes office next month.

Segura said his motivation for the project came after being approached by a USA Today representative at the ACC Student Leadership Conference in February. He agreed to look into the feasibility of bringing such a program to the University, as students often seek access to newspapers for academic and entertainment purposes.

"Going around, I see many people with newspapers on Grounds," Segura said.

The initiative is similar to one tested two years ago, when Council organized a trial period of subscriptions to USA Today and the New York Times. The program was not continued because it carried an estimated cost of $24,000, split between the Student Council and Arts & Sciences Council budgets. Additionally, Council President Colin Hood said studies based on numbers of papers picked up showed the New York Times was about 10 times more popular than USA Today.

To reduce costs, Hood proposed an online-readership program in which students would access the newspaper through the University library system.

"Most newspaper companies ideally would like a student fee added to the program," Hood said. "[Newspaper companies] did not like that idea [of online-readership] and said that they were not willing to go into the online realm at that time."

The New York Times currently offers subscription-only access to select online content.

Segura said he expects the measure will be reintroduced in mid-April, after Council President-elect Dan Morrison takes office.

"We are going to wait until the next administration to look into the logistics of this," Segura said. "We don't want just the Hood administration to be caught in this and the new administration not knowing all the facts and logistics."

Segura said if the pilot program is implemented, he hopes to make USA Today, The New York Times and The Washington Post available to students. He also said he welcomes any student feedback into which papers to select.

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