In an effort to attract student readership, The New York Times developed an email newsletter specifically for college students earlier this month.
The newsletter, named “The Edit”, is sent out every other week, featuring a variety of information for students to guide them through the next steps in their lives, both professionally and personally. However students must .
“There is so much free information out there on these same issues, and I’ll grant you it’s not written by the New York Times and I’ll grant you it doesn’t have the gravitas of this fine organization,” Oklahoma Christian University Dean of Communications David Lowry said. “I think most students and even people my age are demonstrating they don’t want to pay for it.”
“The Edit” is one of 40 different newsletters The Times regularly sends out, including its daily morning and evening briefings. This newsletter is The Times’ latest attempt to appeal to college students in order to encourage younger readership and reach $800 million in digital revenue by the year 2020.
Freshman Cale Michael said that, although he does not think students will completely ignore the newsletter, the cost would cause them to loose interest in it.
“I don’t think it will get thrown under the rug,” Michael said. “But most college students aren’t going to pay for a subscription to a big newspaper like that. Most of the time a college student will pay for a specific magazine, but not a newspaper.”
Fellow freshman Will Arbuckle said he agreed with Michael, and said that the cost will turn college students away.
“I think some people will push it under the rug because they don’t want to pay a subscription,” Arbuckle said. “Some might look at it and be a little interested and will decide they would like to subscribe to it, but I honestly can’t see this being a good business front for them.”
The Times does offer discounted subscriptions to college students and university faculty as well as a program for universities to purchase subscriptions in bulk for campus distribution.
Lowry said that the plan has good intentions, but that he does not believe it will attract a large number of college students.
“I don’t predict a good future for them in this,” Lowry said. “Now I do think this is a great idea, absolutely, and I think The New York Times is not unlike a lot of American newspapers. Suddenly they’re looking and saying, ‘What’s going on here? What’s our situation? How are we going to get readers?’”
Along with the issue of cost, Michael and Arbuckle both said that they would not be interested in “The Edit” because neither of them regularly check the news.
“Depending on what news I hear about during the day, if it gets me interested in it, I’ll go and read it,” Michael said. “But not all the time.”
Arbuckle said that since he has come to college, he has checked the news less frequently
“I barely look at the news nowadays,” Arbuckle said. “I usually would watch it in the mornings before I went to high school, but now I just don’t do that because I just go straight to my classes.”
Lowry said that The Times could use several other strategies to increase college student readership, including attempting to tailor to their predispositions on certain issues.
“There are several strategies being used by different organizations,” Lowry said. “One of them is that whether we like it or not, we find that some people are attracted to certain publications because of their emphasis in the way they cover politics – either right, left or independent.”
Michael said he believes in order for The Times to successfully attract younger readers, it needs to provide previews free of charge.
“They should give you the first couple of issues free, so you can like it,” Michael said. “Then after however many they offer for free, you can renew your subscription with the cost.”