By Jonathan Bjerg Moller
Canada’s largest daily newspaper has hit a roadblock in inking a deal with Ryerson.
Negotiations between the university and The Toronto Star about supplying free newspaper on campus are on hold, pending a compromise with The Eyeopener.
“The Eyeopener has put a block on the deal,” said the Star’s Loreen Lalonde, who works in the circulation, partnerships and sponsorships department.
Both The Eyeopener and RyeSAC say competition from the Star would be harmful to Ryerson’s campus papers.
Lalonde insists the Star only wants to increase readership among students, not drive the campus press out of business.
The readership program, if signed by Ryerson, would allow 2,000 copies of the Star to be distributed daily through seven drop boxes around the campus.
“We are not in competition with student papers,” she said. As proof, Lalonde pointed to Penn State University where readership programs have not caused a decrease in student publication readership or advertising revenues.
But Gerry Hamilton, general manager of Penn State University’s paper, the Daily Collegian, feels the school’s readership program has affected his paper.
The students at the university, in Pennsylvania, receive copies of the New York Times, USA Today and the local Center Daily Times.
The Star has modeled its program on that of Penn State’s, but there are differences between the two.
At Penn State, the New York Times and USA Today are only distributed in the campus residences. The Center Daily Times, however, is distributed al over campus and is the main competitor for the Daily Collegian.
A recent readership study showed the Daily Collegian’s readership in residence was down by three per cent. While the drop is within the margin of error, Hamilton believes it actually portrays the situation.
“My guess is that [readership of the Daily Collegian] has dropped,” Hamilton said, “and I suspect the readership program is at least a contributing factor.”
Also, the drop boxes at Penn State that hold copies of the papers allot an equal amount of space to each of the four newspapers.
Lalonde believes the campus papers’ advertising revenues won’t be affected by the Star’s presence.
Advertisers cater to a specific market, she said, adding ads geared to students would not likely be placed in the Star.
“We’re trying to work together,” Lalonde said. “We want to try and encourage readership.”
But The Eyeopener general manager Liane McLarty said she has suggested compromises to the Star, like making the newspaper free to students in Star boxes on Church and Gould streets.
“We recommended other avenues to the Star that were unacceptable to them,” McLarty said.