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Let’s Turn Back the Page and Revive Print Subscriptions on Campus

4 mins read

If the recent midterm elections taught us anything, it is the power of young Americans to shape the outcomes of the future, which crucially depends on their ability to stay informed about current events. The habits we create in college often solidify into the ones we will keep up in adulthood. This is the most critical time for us to make a point of turning thought into action as we take our ideals and translate them into protesting and voting, among other things. As “woke” as Swarthmore claims to be, many students have fallen into the trap of thinking of current events as the realm of the dreaded political science and economics bros. While there are health and cognitive benefits to striking a balance and occasionally tuning out news headlines, we all must stay at least generally informed about current events. Burying your head in the sand is only a temporary solution to maintaining peace. The political and economic issues that plague the country affect every individual directly, no matter how much one would like to ignore it; newspapers and magazines are more than just sources of information.

This is not to ignore the financial barriers there are to information. Most of us have experienced reading a portion of an article only to be barred from the rest by an annoying block of text imploring us to take out our credit cards and subscribe. People who are not willing or able to spend their money on expensive website subscriptions will simply click out and get their information from cheaper, albeit less reputable, sources. Swarthmore College does a great job of bypassing these barriers by offering free online subscriptions to some of the most reliable newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and Washington Post. 

Despite this, Swarthmore used to give even greater access to these resources. Physical copies of the New York Times, for example, were prevalent throughout the school, not only in McCabe library as they are currently. People are more likely to read newspapers and magazines if they are physically in front of them. Having to put the mental energy into actively seeking out these resources online, although the process itself is simple once you start, requires a lot of mental space that busy Swarthmore students often don’t have on hand. The energy barrier is just too high. Most would agree that they would happily take a peek at a newspaper that is directly within their reach if it meant, for example, procrastinating on homework. Reinstating the practice of having newspapers in high-traffic areas, such as Parrish parlor and Kohlberg lounge, would increase the number of students using this resource. 

Support for journalism, especially for small newspapers, is another reason for increasing access to physical newspapers across campus, as the news industry fights a constant battle to compete in the age of free online information. The college definitely has the funds, and local newspapers like the Swarthmorean and the Philadelphia Inquirer would definitely benefit from a regular college subscription to keep them afloat. 

All in all, the editorial board of The Phoenix believes that increasing the number of physical magazines and newspapers on campus has many significant benefits. The stability of our democracy depends on citizens’ ability to access reputable information, and so student access to information on events of the Swarthmore bubble should be aided in every way possible.

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