By Jonathan Bjerg Moller
The newspaper war is spreading to Ryeron’s campus.
To increase its readership with university students, The Toronto Star is negotiating with Ryerson to put drop boxes with free newspapers around the school.
This is based on a similar program initiated by the New York Times and USA Today at Penn State University in Harrisburg, Pennslyvania.
The Star drop boxes would hold free copies of the paper, as well as copies of campus publications such as The Eyeopener and The Ryersonian.
It’s “one-stop shopping for students, staff and faculty,” said Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s v.p. administration and stuent affairs.
However, not everyone is happily awaiting the arrival of The Star. Both RyeSAC and The Eyeopener have complained to Ryerson that The Star’s presence on campus would create unfair competition for the student press.
“The Toronto Star would be in direct competition for our national and local advertisers,” said Liane McLarty, general manager of The Eyeopener.
McLarty said she is worried The Eyeopener wouldn’t be able to compete financially with a daily paper.
The Star‘s Ryerson Readership Program has also hit a constitutional snag.
Ryerson adopted a policy in 1991 regarding the control of posters, notices, and publications. It states that “external publications and newspapers are now permitted on campus.”
RyeSAC has a similar policy that prohibits any publications not owned by RyeSAC, CKLN, or Rye Eye Publishing INc. from being distributed on campus.
But Ryerson’s director of ancillary services, John Corallo, would not comment on these rules, saying that no money would go to Ryerson.
“It’s strictly a readership arrangement,” Corallo said.
As negotiations at Ryerson continue, other newspapers are slowly vying for university market arrangements.
The Globe and Mail, eager for new readers, has decided to halve its current student subscription price to $6 from $12 a week.
And Ryerson is not alone in its wheeling and dealing with The Star.
At the University of Toronto, negotiations are underway with the paper.
“We have not made a decision,” said Michael Finlayson, v.p. administration at U of T, “but the idea [of a U of T Readership Program] seems to be a good one.”
At York University, The Star is now being dropped off at the university’s doorstep after a three-year deal was signed.
But the student paper at York shares The Eyeopener’s fears.
“Our biggest concern is that as a student paper we’re going to lose our identity,” said Angela Pacienza, editor-in-chief of The Excalibur.
Pacienza said the section of each Star drop box allocated to the Eyeopener can only hold 300 copies of the paper.
Some of the Excalibur’s old drop boxes, which are no longer allowed on campus, could hold more than 4,000 copies.
But Grayson stresses a Star deal with Ryerson would not exclude other publications.
She said the move to bring The Star on campus would also keep the school tidy.
Part of the deal states that The Star would be responsible for cleaning the area around the drop boxes.
“It looks pretty scary some days,” Grayson said of the mess that usually surrounds campus drop boxes, most notably those at Jorgenson’s south entrance.
Although York’s contract with The Star is still in its infancy, Pacienza thinks the mess surrounding the drop boxes at York is only going to get worse.
“The Toronto Stars are all over the fucking place,” she said. “It’s a disaster during the day…there are sections of the Star all over the floor.”