OPINION: Accessibility to quality journalism isn’t a luxury to college students — it’s their right

Through my high school’s library, I was fortunate to have free access to quality news publications. For four years, I had unlimited access to The New York Times, The Economist and more. So when I first arrived at college, I was surprised when a window asking me to “register to read this article” covered my computer screen. It quickly dawned on me that I had no way to circumvent it.  

Considering Claremont McKenna College’s 2019-2020 average cost of attendance is $76,475, subscriptions to news publications ought to be included in that price, and now they are. 

In high school, the cost of these subscriptions came with the cost of my education — because they were a vital part of it. I credit high-quality journalism for bursting my sheltered bubble. It made my world bigger, improved my writing and fueled my passion for social change.

Access to accurate and fair journalism shouldn’t be a luxury to a college student — it’s a right. Additionally, it’s a win-win-win for higher educational institutions.

ASCMC recently partnered with CMC President Hiram Chodosh and Open Academy to provide all students with free Wall Street Journal and New York Times subscriptions, according to an email sent to students. CMC’s mission promises relationships that enhance “critical inquiry” and an “intellectual environment that promotes responsible citizenship.” This change builds the integrity of CMC, bringing it closer to the type of institution it says it wants to be.

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Stephen Moore, who was an economic adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, spoke at the Athenaeum last school year. Moore recommended regularly reading the Wall Street Journal’s opinions and editorials. Politics aside, Moore’s advice coincides with a primary goal at CMC. Using the Athenaeum as its treasured tool, CMC encourages openness to differing, even opposing perspectives. 

This open-mindedness is why Heterodox Academy awarded CMC the Institutional Excellence Award for being “‘the college or university that has done the most to advance or sustain open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement either on its campus or nationally.’” Providing access to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal promotes diversity in perspectives while maintaining support for accurate and fair reporting. 

While this is a laudable collaboration between CMC’s administration and student government, the change exposes an entrenched stigma of unfairness and elitism in higher education. With the enormous endowment and tuition dollars that many institutions sit on, it’s a shame that access to quality journalism is not more readily accessible to students.

That being said, CMC students are extremely fortunate to go to a school that has the means to support them. The ability to provide such an expense isn’t only a testament to a school’s core values, but to its capital. 

More disadvantaged institutions withhold such costly resources to no moral fault of their own. It is crucial that CMC students are mindful of their own privilege and help students at other schools, who may not be as fortunate, claim their right to read the news. 

Access to accurate and fair journalism shouldn’t be a luxury to a college student — it’s a right. Additionally, it’s a win-win-win for higher educational institutions. Students will be happier and more intellectually curious, colleges uphold their values and the world gains a more engaged and prepared professional and civic community. 

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Georgia Tuckerman CM ’22 is from Columbus, Ohio. She is passionate about government and foreign affairs and enjoys playing tennis and eating ice cream.  

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