NY Times Readership Program delivers fresh curricula, speaker

Do you have a nose for newspapers?

Would you rather get ink on your fingers than search with them for news on your smartphone?

Perhaps you just like having something to read that doesn’t have a power switch.

If so, then you’ve probably already noticed the relatively new additions on campus: New York Times news stands stocked with free daily newspapers.

It’s part of the New York Times College Readership Program at Wright State University. It’s an effort to get plugged-in students to pick up a newspaper to learn about current events instead of pulling up a URL.

Avid readers may recognize the name David Leonhardt. An economics columnist with the Times, he’s a regular contributor, and he is coming to speak at Wright State next week.

Leonhardt writes the weekly column “Economic Scene” for the business section, and was one of the reporters who co-authored the book Class Matters.

He’ll visit Wright State Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Apollo Room, to discuss, “How Do We Grow from Here? The Post-Crisis American Economy.” The event is sponsored by the Wright State First-Year Experience Program.

“The readership program is designed to get students to read beyond what they read on Google,” said Edwin Mayes, director of the First-Year Experience program in University College.

The Times news stands started popping up in September 2010 and it looks like some students have taken notice.

“300 newspapers are provided each day, and about 200 get picked up,” said Mayes.

Educators on campus are hoping students, first-year students in particular, are picking up the benefits of reading at such a high level.

“The readership program strives to enrich student learning inside and outside the classroom, provide an additional resource for students to explore global issues, promote critical thinking and discussion and engage students in active learning,” said Mayes.

Susan Carrafiello, Ph.D., director of the University Honors Program, says using the Times in her honors history class is already paying off.

“It was really good; they were stunned that I would pass out these newspapers for each class and they were free,” said Carrafiello. “Some read on a regular basis, and for those that did, it helped inculcate a habit in them of looking at newspapers that many of them were not doing on a regular basis.”

The readership program has also sponsored activities like poetry writing and spoken word contests on campus.

“I think they felt more cultured because they have access to it, and more aware of things that were happening across the country that they might otherwise have not known much about,” said Carrafiello.

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