By Samuel Rubenfeld
Newsday, Long Island's only daily newspaper, may no longer be available on campus for free.
The paper, delivered for years every morning at close to a dozen campus locations as part of its college readership program, is negotiating with the University this week over how to keep the Long Island daily on its blue newsstands, despite tremendous financial obstacles facing the media industry as a whole.
"We have had a long-standing relationship with the Newsday readership program and it has been very popular on campus," said Melissa Connolly, vice president of University Relations.
Newsday provides college campuses with a discounted bulk distribution of newspapers, and the University distributes them as "free" newspapers. They called the University just before Thanksgiving and said the deliveries were to stop immediately, but after talks, the paper agreed to continue the program through the end of the semester, Connolly said.
"They indicated that Hofstra's financial commitment to the program would need to increase at a considerable rate, and even then they would not ensure that the readership program would continue," she added.
The University has similar contracts with other newspapers, including Long Island Business News and The New York Times, Connolly said. The New York Daily News delivers its papers for free, Connolly said.
"Long Island colleges have some of the brightest and most talented students anywhere, and we value having the ability to keep them informed and connected through the Newsday campus readership program," Newsday said in an e-mailed statement.
Media companies, especially newspapers, have been hit hard by the recession and the increase in the use of the Internet, as advertising revenue plummeted and companies took on heavily-leveraged debt when buying each other earlier in the decade. The biggest media news came when Tribune Company, which owns 10 newspapers and multiple TV stations, and owned Newsday until four months ago, filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, less than a year after real estate magnate Samuel Zell took the company private.
Newsday was bought by Cablevision Corp. for $650 million, and despite still being profitable, it recently took cost-cutting measures, laying off 100 workers last week, including the entire photo department and making the employees re-apply for their old jobs-with half as many positions available.
Referring to the end of subsidized distribution, Bob Papper, chair of the journalism department, said he was disappointed with the decision. "Newsday is the Long Island paper of record...it's kind of ironic that a newspaper trying to attract younger readers would be cutting off students' access."
Students expressed displeasure when they learned about the development. "Having these newspapers on campus is a valuable resource for students," said Ian Poake, a freshman drama major.