Biggest Letdown: Mizzou Readership Program

After fifteen years, the Mizzou Readership Program is coming to an end.

Parents send their kids off to MU because they know it’s the best school for journalism. We have those hands-on journalism classes (lookin’ at you, 4450/4460 and 4300-4320), the decorated faculty of the Missouri School of Journalism and that good old “Missouri Method.”

Tour Team can show off our wonderful facilities, down to the possibility of having access to The New York Times, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, USA Today and the Columbia Missourian every weekday ...

… except we can’t anymore.

The Mizzou Readership Program circa-2000 was a pilot program brought to MU through a partnership with USA Today. Students had campus-wide access to these papers with just the swipe of an ID. It thrived at MU. In 2008, it even ranked fifth in the nation of collegiate readership programs. This past year, we still remained in the top 10.

The program is funded entirely by student fees. This past year, it was allocated $1.73, or roughly 0.31 percent, of the entire student fee. Alone, these publications ranged in cost from $2 to $9 per weekly print or full-access subscriptions.

But at the beginning of fiscal year 2014, it was announced that nearly every department, including the Department of Student Life, would receive 2 percent less in general operating funds. The approximately $8.7 million would then be absorbed by the MU Strategic Operating Plan.

Student Life Director Mark Lucas was faced with a decision. He had to make cuts. He asked student leaders from the Missouri Students Association, the Residence Halls Association and the likes to talk to their constituents about the readership program.

Lucas said the leaders reported back with the same response: Students either knew about the program but didn’t use it, or didn’t know it even existed.

Lucas took this to the Student Fee Review Committee, which is comprised entirely of students and decides student fee allocations each year. SFRC makes suggestions to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs, who approves the budget every fiscal year.

Through this chain of recommendation, the Mizzou Readership Program was terminated.

We loved those papers. We cherished them. We used them for J2100’s weekly news quizzes.

The Mizzou Readership Program flourished for 15 years, but fiscal year 2016 officially marks the end of an era: when journalism stopped being accessible at MU and the Missouri School of Journalism.

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