New York Times subscription renewal up for debate Wednesday


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Dailiy

Katie Holmes (left) and Jesslyn Perrin (right) have a discussion with Kody Olson (center) during a Student Government meeting. 

Alex Connor

Student Government will debate renewing the funding on a New York Times digital subscription during its meeting Wednesday night.

The subscription experienced a lengthy, and heated, discussion in the senate when first funded last year. The initial push to bring the subscription to campus had been spearheaded by then-President Cole Staudt.

The New York Times is currently available to all students, faculty and staff. Student Government pays a subscription fee so Iowa State community members have access to “every paper [it] has ever published, specialized content, content designed for the web” and international multilingual content, according to the bill. 

Should senate approve the renewal, Student Government will allocate $34,990 from the Special Projects Account to pay for one year. 

“Essentially, what it is is renewing a contract that we signed around this time last year,” said Sen. Isaiah Baker, who is sponsoring the legislation. “The terms of the contract are such that it is renewable every year.”

Student Government can choose to opt out of it or have another year of digital access, the decision being made annually by different Student Government represenatives and their constituents. 

“What we get out of this deal is a digital subscription for the New York Times for all students, faculty and staff on campus — which is not just the daily news. It is on all [digital] platforms,” Baker said. 

Baker hopes that in having this resource available to students, it will serve as extension to academic opportunities.

“If we know that those newspapers meet a really high standard of journalistic integrity as a adjudicated by experts, then they are sources we should be providing to the students,” Baker said. “This is tier one research institution and our students deserve the best resources possible.”

When first debated last year in Student Government, some senators were concerned about the objectivity of the New York Times and if it really served as a benefit to Iowa State.

Senators were also concerned if it was even needed because currently, the Washington Post offers a free digital subscription. Last year, the subscription initially failed but after a two-hour debate ultimately passed 25-6-0. 

“It was very close to the election time — and there was a lot of political contention with the idea of the New York Times,” Baker said. “Donald Trump, in particular, had made a lot of statements about the New York Times that made it charged on both sides.”

Baker said he felt that last year, people were defensive and willing to attack the New York Times without “weighing its objectivity.”

Not as a counter or balance to the New York Times subscription — should it pass — but as an addition to, Baker said Student Government should consider funding subscriptions to other national papers, as well. 

“We should honestly pursue this exact same model with the Wall Street Journal,” Baker said. 

Student Government will have to come to a definitive decision at Wednesday’s meeting to fit into a 60-day renewal period in the contract.

“I found out — after being sent a scanned copy of our contract from a New York Times rep — that we had a 60-day window… before Dec. 23… to make a decision,” Baker said. “60 days was last Tuesday.”

However, Baker was able to work it out with the New York Times to extend the renewal or non-renewal period.

“That’s sort of been waived for us,” Baker said. “That being said, we still need to make a decision sooner rather than later.” 

For more information, or to contact your senator, visit The senate meetings are open to the public on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union.