Kicking the kickback culture
Three or four years ago, I required my journalism students to subscribe to The New York Times print edition, which they received at a special student rate. As it turned out, the Times gave me the same special rate too, even though I was a regular subscriber.
That made sense, just as textbook companies provide teachers with “desk” copies of required texts.
But as my students turned more and more to the web for information and because the Times offered its content free on-line, I dropped my requirement that they subscribe to the print edition. I did require them to read the Times on-line.
I still get the Times at a reduced rate, as a “professional courtesy.”
Today in the mail I got a notice encouraging me and my fellow college teachers of “politics, economics, communication or freshman English” to make the print edition “part of your course.” The flier suggests requiring students to subscribe at the education rate of $2.25 per week. If the Times weren’t available on-line, the subscription looks like a deal, at least to those of us who still prefer to hold paper in our hands. That’s less than the price of a latte a week, and less fattening.
But here’s the eyebrow-raising part of the flier: if we require the print subscription of our students, we teachers get a free “complimentary” copy of the Times on weekdays.
All we have to do is send the Times a copy of the course syllabus that shows the Times as required reading.
Strange, but visions of “health care reform” and drug company junkets for doctors came immediately to mind. Requiring the Times subscriptions seemed like prescribing medication that isn’t needed or is more expensive.
In the case of a many students, the requirement would be seen as an unnecessary, added cost to their already financially burdensome college years.
How can the New York Times fault health care in this country, when the newspaper itself is willing to cut deals with teachers that are not that far removed from what Abbott Labs, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline do with doctors?
The Times should help eliminate our kickback culture — through example.