Let me just say right off the bat that I am a New York Times junkie, a diehard fan. I am one of those people that puts it on a pedestal and equates it to a holy text and its journalists to otherworldly beings. As a journalist myself, writing for the NYT is the ultimate goal — the ultimate sign of success in the journalism world.
At a young age, I perfected the art of going into Starbucks just to read a physical copy, so one can imagine my excitement when I came to Lewis & Clark, were there was once seemingly limitless copies of the NYT. Many of my best days on campus have begun at the Dovecote drinking my coffee while perusing The Times. I had a set routine: I would flip through the news section and then the international, glancing on any other stories that caught my eye. Once I felt like I had done my civic duty, I would flip to my favorite part, the reason I had gotten out of bed that morning: the crossword puzzle.
I am not alone in my obsession; the Times crossword was once an essential part of LC culture, a force to be reckoned with. If you could find a crossword section after 12 p.m., you were lucky. I cannot remember how many times I grabbed a copy on my way to class, only to realize later that the crossword page had been meticulously removed from the arts section. The mere act of carrying the crossword helped foster immediate connections. It was not unheard of for me to see someone I had never spoken to in a class with a crossword and lean over and say, “Did you get 44 down?”
This whole system came to a crashing halt in November of last year, when the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) made a shocking announcement. Beginning Dec. 3, all LC students, faculty and staff were to have full complimentary access to the NYT website and all of its online features. Do not get me wrong; being the Times-lover I am, I was ecstatic about this development. It was what followed that really struck home.
“In anticipation of this exciting new offering and in an effort to make LC more sustainable, ASLC will be cutting back the number of print copies provided beginning in the Spring,” the ASLC Community Service & Relations Coordinator said in an email to the student body. “If you cannot access the NYT online, be sure to seek out one of the limited number of print copies from outside Fields Dining Hall.”
LC has been ranked one of the most “green” schools nationwide for years. Limiting the number of wasted papers on campus is only rational. Similar moves have been made by comparable institutions.
On average, ASLC spent anywhere from $12,000 to $17,000 on NYT a year, providing 200 to 300 print copies a day during the school week. If we were looking to get “more bang for your buck,” going digital was definitely the right call: the entire LC community now has unlimited access to all of the Times’ online services for a total cost of $15,000 a year, equating to about $3.70 per person.
This being said, the Times’ motto is “all the news that’s fit to print.” Nothing can replace the feeling of drinking your coffee while holding a crisp NYT in your hands. Scrolling through articles on an iPhone, while probably more efficient and sustainable, just does not have the same effect.
Returning to campus this semester, it feels like something is missing. I can almost hear the weeps of the empty Times holders in the Dovecote and Howard Hall as I walk by. It is no secret that students here have little school spirit; LC students have few flags to rally behind, and now we have one fewer.