Editorial Board 1999-2000
Consider the consequence
Consider the consequence
In the midst of newspaper circulation wars and the National Post gobbling up readership across the country, there's another takeover on the horizon. Only instead of major mergers, the target is a university campus.
The Toronto Star has initiated a marketing campaign geared towards York University which may spread to other campuses in the mega city. For the next three years, the paper will be available on campus for free.
The Star struck a deal with York's administration to have 5,000 copies of the paper delivered to campus each day and placed in boxes which The Star will maintain for the school. A stipulation of the deal says campus papers, such as the Excalibur, York's student newspaper, can either take up 40 per cent of the box, or be in a separate box a minimum of five metres away from The Star.
From a business point of view, The Star's move is a good one. They are offering a free source of daily news to a population looking to feed their minds while watching their wallets. People are fairly monogamous about newspapers if The Star can manage to hook readers now, chances are those students will subscribe to the paper when the deal is no longer available.
However, the circulation of The Toronto Star should not be the primary concern of a university administration. This deal has left the student newspaper out in the cold.
With a major daily city paper available for free, readership for the weekly student publication will likely decrease a significant amount. Who would want to pick up a weekly publication when The Star brings current national events to the reader each day? The all important advertising revenue may also decrease for the Excalibur, as companies will advertise in the paper they think is the most widely read.
This decision was made without any input from the students. While the assumption students would like the deal is a fairly safe one, the effects of The Star's presence on campus cannot be estimated and locking the school into a three-year contract is irresponsible. York could have agreed to a shorter contract and after this time, if the students wanted The Star to remain on campus, it could have been at a reduced rate while the student paper remained free.
The Star is not completely free of blame. When concocting this deal, it must have crossed their minds that the student paper may suffer. Ignoring this as a business decision may be effective in the short term, but lacks a large degree of foresight. Student papers are one of the breeding grounds for their industry and by becoming their competition, The Star is limiting its future.
Campus papers are the voice of the students. This deal acts as nothing more than a silencer.