Previously full newspaper stands around the Kansas State campus now stand empty.
In past years, the University Readership Program used student fees to provide students with copies of local and national newspapers such as The New York Times, USA Today and the Manhattan Mercury, but last spring the Student Governing Association voted to discontinue the program.
According to an announcement in the May 2 edition of K-State Today, “After reviewing the budget, SGA cited the rising costs of subscriptions, malfunctioning hardware across campus and an interest in pursuing online options as reasons for the decision to discontinue.”
Hale Library was one location where students could pick up the newspapers with their student ID. Though the physical copies are no longer there, Lori Goetsch, dean of Hale Library, said online versions are available.
“The library was merely a place to pick the papers up at,” Goetsch said. “We do, however, have many newspapers available online.”
The program’s decline follows the general decline of printed newspapers. As the digital age continues, many local and national papers continue to slow their printing from daily to weekly, with some even moving to strictly online publications.
Steve Wolgast, assistant professor of journalism and former news design editor at The New York Times, said he believes newspapers play an important role in students’ lives.
“Newspapers encourage civic involvement and engagement,” Wolgast said. “It helps transform students into functioning members of society.”
He also foresees negative consequences as a result of removing the University Readership Program.
“Getting rid of these papers will decrease awareness of local news,” Wolgast said. “Without the paper, we go to social media or big brand news outlets that don’t cover the Board of Regents, legislature and even agriculture like local reporting does.”
Some students who value newspapers are disappointed in the disappearance of newspapers on campus.
“I think that by getting rid of a newspaper, it can sometimes give a community a sense of loss,” Taylor Kufahl, junior in food science and pre-pharmacy, said. “Especially coming from a small town, a newspaper is the main form of communication.”