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It used to be that when students walked through the concourse, they would hear polarized debates and loud chatter on the three televisions that broadcasted various political news channels almost 24/7. Nowadays, students get the occasional sports broadcast or PCTV news update on the lone television hovering overhead.
Students have since wondered what exactly happened to the televisions, and why so little news is played on the one television that remains.
“I think that bringing back more news on the televisions for students would be a great addition to the campus,” said freshman Connor Fiddler.
Freshman Tim Steckler added, “I feel that without [the televisions displaying it in the concourse], news is definitely less accessible to students.”
Programming Manager Josh Sprague helped provide an explanation for the disappearance: “The best I have been able to put together suggests that there was so much pharmaceutical advertising on these channels…that it just didn’t feel right broadcasting that into our public spaces. I also don’t think there was tremendous interest on the part of the students to offset this downside.”
College President Jonathan Palmer confirmed that the administration continues to discuss ways to provide live news feeds without medical advertisements and graphic coverage of conflict.
Though news is not distributed by Principia as much as it used to be, there has been alternate reason for the change altogether. Most of it can be attributed to the growth of technological distribution of news on computers, smart-phones, and tablets.
“My gut tells me that [the growth of technology] has had something to do with both The [Christian Science Monitor] and the TVs not being available for news [in the concourse].” said Josh Sprague. “So much is available online now.”
“I wouldn’t say I consistently follow [the news], but every one or two days I will check in to see what’s going on,” explained junior Richard Bonsi. “I usually go to Yahoo! for my news. They give me a variety of [topics] to get information from—like sports and international news—and it’s something I can use my phone to stay updated on as well.”
The shift toward digital news distribution on different mediums has also spurned a change in the distribution of news at Principia. The school has limited the amount of outside news distributed for students, but increased the emphasis of campus-related news.
Examples of this shift toward campus-related news include the television in the concourse playing the newly refurbished PCTV news updates, the athletic TV by the faculty dining room entrance, PIR college updates, and the Pilot. News that focuses on events outside of the College has been left to be accessed through personal devices.
“I do not think it is Principia’s responsibility to distribute the news,” said Media Services resource coordinator, Stephanie Young. “It is our responsibility as citizens of the world to keep up to date with what is happening, and it is so easy now. There are more updates and blogs everywhere, and I would personally like to see students take more [interest in] finding out about the news individually.”
Keeping up to speed with the ever-evolving world is an important aspect of education at a liberal arts institution like Principia College. The news is considered an important tool in evaluating the world and sparking social and personal change within it. Some students would like to see more world news distributed.
“I would like to see it more distributed on the TV screens in the concourse and possibly even on PrinWeb,” said Steckler. “Just distributing it in little ways around campus would be enough.”
Fiddler added, “I think if the point of the liberal arts college is to create that well-rounded man that Mary Kimball Morgan supported, then I think that the college should not necessarily shove news down people’s throats, but to give them little outlets, like the televisions in the concourse… I think the Pilot doing more than just school news would be a great way to inform students about the world by addressing important issues.”
When asked how she would like to see outside news distributed if Principia were to officially distribute it, Young stated, “I don’t like twenty-four hour news, and I don’t think it is effective for students, even though it is easy to have it on. Having The Monitor more available for free like it used to be would be really cool, and I think The Monitor is a wonderful resource for news.”
Sprague commented by saying that news is already provided for students at the college, but just in a different format. “Principia has brokered a killer deal for all students, faculty, and staff with the CSPS for the portal to the [Christian Science Monitor] Daily News Briefing, JSH Online, Concord, etc. I am not sure how many students take advantage of this, but I have a feeling the number is pretty low. News is only a part of that package, but it says something.”
On the surface, it may look like Principia is radically trying to distance students from what may be referred to as “the real world.” But when looking at the issue more closely, there are reasons for this seeming downgraded news distribution. In fact, there is no downgrade, just a shift of responsibility from the institution to provide the news to the students to access it themselves.
Ultimately, the televisions may have been taken down, but the news still lives on; it’s just up to individuals to make themselves aware.