Wednesday, December 7, 2022

'The Netflix for news': ASMSU brings readership program to a mobile app

October 4, 2022
A student gets on their phone to access Spotlight News on Oct. 4, 2022 (Photo Illustration / Devin Anderson-Torrez).
A student gets on their phone to access Spotlight News on Oct. 4, 2022 (Photo Illustration / Devin Anderson-Torrez). —
Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

The Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, launched a collaboration with a news app called Spotlight to give MSU students free access to over 200 news publications. 

“Spotlight is a service that I best describe as a one-stop place for news,” ASMSU Chief of Staff Jack Harrison said. “In many ways, it’s sort of like the equivalent of Netflix for news.”

The app is an extension of the ASMSU-provided readership service that gives students free subscriptions to publications like The New York Times and USA Today when they sign in with their MSU credentials. The Spotlight partnership was purchased using the $21 per semester tax that ASMSU charges students, ASMSU Vice President for Finance and Operations Vipul Adusumilli said.

“We’re very intentional with our budget in ASMSU,” Harrison said. “We’re always looking at how we can find and offer the best and most useful services to our students and I think this is a great addition to the many services we offer, especially to our readership service.”

Initially, the readership program utilized individual contracts with individual vendors.

“I learned this summer how tedious the contract process is with an external vendor, especially through ASMSU because it has to go through three rounds of approval,” Adusumilli said. “So one thing that was enticing for me (about Spotlight) was that we only had to negotiate with one vendor and all the news sources were already there.”

Harrison said the intention of the Spotlight partnership was to make news more accessible to students.

“I also think there’s a really great educational component to it ... it’s a really great service to connect students with what’s happening,” Harrison said.

Spotlight is similar to Apple or Google News, but has more publications available, Adusumilli said.

“You can keep up with local news, state news, federal news, and international news in the same area, which I think is very unique and helps students navigate that ... especially regarding politics,” Adusumilli said. “Even if it’s the same topic, we know that different sources report it differently.”

Within the app, users can customize their news feed depending on their topics of interest, preferred publications, and favorite authors. Additionally, the explore tab allows users to discover new articles and publishers.

“It’s the new way to look at news ... I would say it’s the forefront of readership in the future, in general, because all the resources are in one spot,” Adusumilli said. 

Harrison said students should share Spotlight when they use it to increase awareness about the service.

“We’re always wanting to hear from students what services can we add, what services can we promote, how can we also help you know what services we have ... that’s why we’re here,” Harrison said.

The Spotlight News app can be downloaded for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

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