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Newspaper Readership Program Expands At Penn State
August 23, 2000
University Park, Pa. -- Penn State students may become among the best informed young people about current affairs through the expansion of its popular Newspaper Readership Program this week.

As they return to campus to start the fall semester, Penn State students will take part in what is the largest newspaper readership program at any university in the nation -- with more than 70,000 students eligible to take part.

Penn State is expanding its successful Newspaper Readership Program so that students living both on and off-campus at 20 of its locations around the state can start their day with copies of the New York Times, USA Today and a daily newspaper from the local community. At the main campus at University Park students also continue to receive free copies of The Daily Collegian every morning.

Penn State's Newspaper Readership Program Committee, chaired by Bill Asbury, vice president for student affairs, will monitor the program to gain a better understanding of student use, the effectiveness of the newspaper dispensing machines, the card access process, and the popularity of the locations for the machines.

"After three years of providing this service to residence hall students and this past spring's experiment with a limited number of off-campus students it is clear to us that Penn State students want access to daily newspapers and that it is having an impact on the learning process," Asbury said. "Our surveys of students, discussion with faculty, and experience with the program tell us daily newspaper readership is having a positive impact on the educational experience at Penn State.

Asbury and his committee have used the results of a series of student surveys and the information gained during the semester to determine if Penn State should implement a program for all off-campus students. In addition, a few other Penn State campuses had already begun to experiment with Newspaper Readership Programs for their students who live off campus.

"Our newspaper partners in this program have provided major speakers for campus events, supported faculty research, and they have earmarked funds for student scholarships since we began this effort three years ago," Asbury said. "I think it is the spirit of cooperation between the University staff and the newspapers that have helped to make the program successful and that has paved the way for this major expansion of the effort."

"Reading a newspaper every day can have a positive impact on the lives of young people," said Penn State President Graham Spanier, who first proposed this program. "Our research indicates that students who had easy access to newspapers during the past few years are better informed and are more likely to speak up in the classroom during discussion of current events."

Penn State's Newspaper Readership Program has a web site with details about the program, participating newspapers, a list of committee members and information on the history of the innovative effort at:

"College students who regularly read newspapers, very simply, leave the campus as significantly better informed citizens," according to Douglas Anderson, dean of Penn State's College of Communications. "I think easy access to newspapers is the key, and this program certainly provides that. It hooks students and holds the promise of making them lifelong readers. They profit--as does society."

Penn State's College of Communications is the largest accredited communications program in the country, with more than 2,200 students enrolled.

Penn State officials have been meeting with representatives of the newspaper industry for months in anticipation that the University's Board of Trustees would approve funding for the program at their July meeting. Newspaper dispensing machines have been designed and manufactured to go in more than 100 locations on the 20 Penn State campuses.

There will be more than two dozen locations at the University Park campus where the specially designed machines will be located -- both inside and outside of buildings. Penn State students use their regular student ID cards to open the machines, and they can pick up one, two or all three of the participating newspapers.

Penn State faculty in many disciplines have used newspapers for years as a supplement to other course materials, but the practice began to expand about three years ago when the Newspaper Readership Program was first launched for students living in campus residence halls. Up until now, the cost of the program was supported by University room and board rates.

With the expanded program open to all students living both on and off-campus, the financial support now is included in student tuition fees.

Newspapers participating in the expanded program include: The New York Times, USA Today, Centre Daily Times, Harrisburg Patriot, Philadelphia Inquirer, Altoona Mirror, Beaver County Times, Erie Morning News, Reading Times, Dubois Courier-Express, Uniontown Herald Standard, Hazleton Standard Speaker, Allentown Morning Call, Record Herald, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Valley News Dispatch, Pottsville Republican and Evening Herald, The Sharon Herald, Wilkes-Barre Citizen's Voice, Scranton Times and the York Daily Record.