Newspapers are rarely in a position to give away anything for free—let alone 2,000 subscriptions. As a way to help create a generation of enthusiastic news consumers, the Grand Junction (Colo.) Daily Sentinel recently provided incoming freshman at Colorado Mesa University (CMU) with e-editions to their paper for the year.
The Sentinel has distributed print copies of the paper for years throughout the CMU campus as part of their Newspapers in Education program, but found that today’s undergraduate student just isn’t accustomed to picking up a printed newspaper.
When CMU students presented the idea of giving away online subscriptions, Sentinel publisher Jay Seaton said that it was an easy ask.
“We want to hit them where they are, not where we want them to be,” he said.
Both the paper and the leadership at the university saw the value in a partnership because they could show students at an early age the advantages of reading newspapers, and “getting undergraduates hungry to learn the benefits of the newspaper, and ultimately, our democracy,” said Seaton.
The Sentinel is hopeful that when the free subscription expires, some of the undergraduates will find the information valuable enough to pay for and continue their digital subscription.
“We think people tire of the churn of the 24-hour news cycle filtered through irresponsible and outrage-prone social media outlets,” said Seaton. “We can offer reliable, vetted national and local news free of political bias or malicious manipulation.”