Under the recently instituted New York Times (NYT) website paywall, news comes at a price. Yet for members of the Bowdoin community, access will be subsidized.
As of March 28, the NYT capped free online access at 20 articles per month and began charging $15 a month for unlimited computer and smart phone access. However, through the NYT Campus Newspaper Readership Program and Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), anyone with a Bowdoin email address is eligible for unlimited access at a discounted price of $11.28 a month.
Nonetheless, each person must register individually and the NYT is not offering an option for a campus-wide digital subscription at the moment. Librarian Joan Campbell said that if such a plan was made available, the library would fund it. In a recent Student Digest post outlining the discount, Campbell also cited the special introductory price of $0.99 for the first four weeks, regardless of campus programs.
Through the Collegiate Readership Program headed by USA Today, the College provides complimentary print copies of the Times, USA Today, Boston Globe and Portland Press Herald in the dining halls and Smith Union.
Campbell said she believed the NYT's switch to a pay platform was both "inevitable" and "a good thing."
"They've lost the base of their print subscription...the money's got to come from somewhere," said Campbell. "I don't know how a free newspaper could have reporters based all over the world."
"It's not a perfect newspaper, as no media source is, but I'm happy to pay for that level of journalism," she added. "I think it does guarantee us a certain level of quality."
Regardless, Campbell noted the new online pay platform is "an experiment for them, and I think they know that," pointing to the plethora of other free online news sources.
BSG President John Connolly was concerned that "socioeconomically and geographically diverse readership may very well take a hit" from the paywall.
"If the Internet is one of the great equalizers of our time, then pay-for-access programs such as these help to reinforce some of our society's glaring inequalities," wrote Connolly in an email to the Orient. "This is especially true if there is no mechanism for libraries and public places to provide free access—which appears to be the case with this program."
Despite the discount, Bowdoin readership of the NYT online will likely dwindle with the new system.
"Eleven dollars for every month for the entire year is still a lot," said Lynn Zaremski '11. "I read it all the time, but I don't think I would if I had to pay. If it cost less per year, I would still do it."
"I think Bowdoin should try to subsidize it more in some way...to encourage people to read the papers because it's a dying art," said Charlie Fogarty '14, who said he currently reads the complimentary print issues of the Times. He added that he plans to pay the discounted price for unlimited online access.
James Crimp '13 said he would consider an online subscription.
"I read it very regularly...it's definitely my number one news source."