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Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

The New York Times will announce today that more than 3 million U.S. students now receive free access to nytimes.com, thanks to more than 30,000 contributions from its readers.

Why it matters: It's the company's way of investing in the next generation of NYT readers, which it thinks will help it retain current subscribers. "We already have high retention, but I think this could make it almost bullet proof," says Hannah Yang, head of subscription growth.

Details: The donations come from nearly 75 countries and are made possible through its sponsor a student subscription program that launched in 2017.

  • The access is given to 4,000 schools around the country, including really large school districts in Chicago and Miami-Dade to smaller districts in rural America. So far, schools in all 50 states have been given access.
  • Some donors are recurring, but most are one-timers. One donor anonymously donated $1 million in 2017. Not including that donation, each donor gives about $50 on average.

The big picture: Yang says while many subscribers pay for NYT to read it for themselves, many others aim to support what they consider to be good traditional journalism now and for future generations.

One weird twist: The subscriptions are awarded on a first-ask, first-serve basis, as well as for those in need financially. So far, the company has been able to provide subscriptions to everyone who has asked, although when some schools in certain parts of the country inquired about subscriptions and realized they could access them for free, Yang says they were skeptical.

"Some schools in some parts country are not going to want this ... There's a skepticism, [with] people asking us, what's our ulterior motive? It was harder to give this away than [we] expected."
— Hannah Yang

What's next? The Times eventually wants to open up the program internationally.

Go deeper

Trump can't quit mainstream media

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa are interviewed by Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" in September. Photo: William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images

Bob Woodward and Robert Costa issued a rebuttal on Friday to a statement by former President Donald Trump that misrepresented their reporting — and once again showed the 45th president's thin skin about mainstream media.

Driving the news: "Former President Trump said ... our book, 'Peril,' implied that he was planning to go to war with China," the statement begins. "[W]e report that Chairman of Joint Chiefs Mark Milley 'believed that Trump did not want a war' before or after the 2020 election."

NY declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron COVID variant

Governor Kathy Hochul makes an announcement about a new plan transforming Penn Station on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases and the newly-identified Omicron variant of the virus.

Driving the news: The declaration enables the state to acquire supplies to fight a potential surge in cases, increase hospital capacity and combat potential staff shortages, NBC's local affiliate reports.

2 hours ago - Health

First cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant discovered in U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Two cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant were detected in the United Kingdom overnight, the U.K. Health Security Agency announced Saturday.

Why it matters: The discovery comes as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

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