Free New York Times to continue, Wall Street Journal may be added

The library will pick up the tab to retain a free campuswide subscription to the New York Times that student government senators voted against renewing last month. In addition, students, faculty and staff may gain new access next year to the Wall Street Journal.

The library agreed to pay for the digital subscription to the Times for 2018, which includes access to most Times apps, its website and its full archives, said Curtis Brundy, associate university librarian for scholarly communications and collections.

Access is available to anyone with an active email account. In the first year of the subscription, more than 2,000 people at Iowa State created accounts under the program.

"The usage numbers are great," Brundy said.

As of last week, Brundy said, library officials were still negotiating the price with the Times, but it will be no more than the roughly $35,000 the subscription cost in 2017. It will be paid out of the library's acquisition budget, which is in constant flux, Brundy said.

"When we take on something like this, we have to move some things around," he said. 

While content from many newspapers, including the Times, is already available through library databases, Brundy said it's not as convenient as having direct access via apps and websites.

After more than 90 minutes of debate at their Nov. 1 meeting, student senators voted 17-12 against renewing the annual subscription, citing concerns about cost, usage and the perceived ideological balance of the Times. In November 2016, senators approved a one-year subscription paid from the senate's special projects accounts.

During the renewal debate, some student senators had ideas on how to better promote the subscription, and Brundy said the library hopes to work with students on their marketing ideas to increase usage. Student government president Cody West said the senate is expected to discuss promotion of the subscription at its January meeting.

"When we look back on the year, we don't really see the marketing effort," he said.

West said during the debate at the Nov. 1 meeting, several senators suggested the Wall Street Journal as an alternative national news source worth exploring. The Journal's institutional opinion editorials are conservative, while Times editorials are liberal.

Contacted by student government officials, the Wall Street Journal offered a one-year campuswide subscription for free, West said. The draft contract allows for access by students and professors, but West said the proposal is being reviewed and likely would allow similar access as the Times subscription. The contract hasn't been finalized.

"Both subscriptions will have something for everyone," West said. "I think it will ease a lot of minds."

Students, faculty and staff already registered for the Times should notice no difference when the new contract starts Jan. 1. Anyone with a valid Iowa State email can sign up for access online