Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Shame on COM for eliminating print papers, disheartening students

Nothing matches the unexplainable joy one gets from flipping through the pages of a newspaper. It’s something about the smell of ink and the satisfying sound the pages make as they’re turned — it becomes addicting. The majority of aspiring journalists know this sensation all too well. It’s what drives us forward as we scan the columns for our bylines and photos.

However, we must now rely on computer screens to elicit the same reaction following the essential discontinuation of the Collegiate Readership Program in Boston University’s College of Communication. As outlined in a Monday Daily Free Press article, students previously had access to print editions of the New York Times, The Boston Globe and USA TODAY on designated shelves throughout the COM building. The service was discontinued this summer, according to COM Dean Thomas Fiedler. COM announced free school-wide digital subscriptions to the Times in an email last Wednesday. The new service includes access to the extensive Times archives and multimedia features, in place of the print editions.

As a journalism school, we are based in Boston. Gaining unlimited access to the New York Times is fantastic, but we do not live in New York. Obviously it is a beacon of journalistic excellence, but what about The Boston Globe?

Many of our journalism professors have worked at the Globe in the past, some professors work there now, our classmates participate in co-op programs at the Globe and we aspire to have bylines in the Globe. Yet, we do not have access to it in any form currently. It is absurd that we have to finagle ways to read our professors’ bylines. This is where we turn for inspiration.

We’re often quizzed on current events, more likely local news than not. How are we supposed to succeed, or at the very least cram, if we do not have legal access to our primary regional newspaper?

It goes without saying that more people than your average journalism nerds pick up a paper. Having a newspaper in physical form is an encouragement of sorts to those entering professions focused on communication. Who knows if a student with an emphasis in advertising were to pick up a paper and become inspired. These are the unknowns that come with eliminating ready access to news sources, particularly our local outlet.

The Globe allows access to five free articles per month before a paywall pops up. There are ways around paywalls, but circumnavigating the very institution that guarantees a future position of employment seems unethical at the least. If the print editions are removed from the building for COM students, we should at the very least have digital access.

Turning to a digital-only approach for news is an indication of the times. By switching to digital version of the Times and cutting the other publications, costs are obviously diminished.

However, we lose the experience of casually grabbing a newspaper and flipping through it in the GSU. It opens conversations, triggers debate and generally informs those who may not otherwise visit the Globe’s website.

The most troubling thing about the discontinuation of the print newspapers is not the actual act, but rather the ideology that it supports. Eliminating the papers, and quite literally ripping the shelves from the wall, is perhaps the most disheartening thing you can do for a school dedicated to producing journalists. This is an endorsement of our future, and an incredibly bleak one at that.

People ask us day in and day out why we have chosen this profession. There is always questioning, particularly in our current hostile environment. It seems as if beyond an insatiable curiosity and unshakable determination, there is a third missing ingredient. That would be hope. Hope for our outlets, hope for our future careers and hope for the dissemination of truth. Seeing print newspapers banished from the walls of COM chips away at that hope just a bit more.

But hey, at least we have access to the Times’ archives now.

2 Comments

  1. A well written piece dealing with the heart of the issues that challenge our industry.

    The good news is that as the Director of Customer Experience here at The Boston Globe, I am hoping to restore “hope” back to your team. We’re working with the leadership at BU to do as much as possible to get the print product back on your shelves.

    Feel free to reach out to me directly for an update on the status:

    Aaron Andrade
    Director of Customer Experience
    617-929-2471
    [email protected]

  2. Oh boy, do I agree with that editorial! I’m impressed that Mr. Andrade is trying to get the print version of the Globe in your hands.
    I ONLY read print versions of the newspapers I read. I like the layout that the editorial team has chosen, the size font and placement on the page of the articles.
    I hope the editorial comes to the attention of decision makers at BU who might reconsider dropping all print editions.