Saturday is International Newspaper Carrier Day. If you are reading this column in a printed newspaper, you have a carrier to thank, in part, for getting it delivered to you.
The job newspaper carriers do has changed much over the course of my lifetime. Decades ago, when newspapers were published in the afternoon, our carriers were primarily young kids. They would hop on bikes or walk the neighborhood with full wagons, delivering the newspaper after school and collecting payments from subscribers. They knew their customers because they saw and talked to many of them when they were delivering each day.
Today, most of our carriers are adults, or young adults old enough to have a driver’s license. They deliver the paper starting in the wee hours of the morning, even in the dead of winter. They no longer collect your payments in person, and they are also less familiar with their customers because they don’t have routine encounters while they are delivering papers.
Through the years, it has become more difficult for our carriers. Have you ever tried to find a house in the dark? With no house numbers anywhere? Their routes are larger since most are now motor routes instead of walking routes. Economics play into it as well. Carriers are contracted and paid for each newspaper they deliver. To make more money, they deliver larger routes. Our carriers are an integral part of the well-oiled machine to get the newspaper delivered, a system that works well when all the parts and pieces are there.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we, like many local businesses, have faced staffing challenges. Finding people who want to get up and work in the early morning hours is even tougher. Many of you have felt the effects of having no carrier on your route for a time. It can be frustrating not receiving your paper when you want it. In a pinch, we have moved some routes to mail temporarily to ensure delivery, albeit later in the day. We are grateful for your patience and flexibility.
With all these recent challenges, it has made us more appreciative of our carriers and the reliable work they do for us. And while you might not ever get the chance to meet your newspaper carrier in person, I hope you appreciate them as well. And if they provide you great service, they always appreciate the occasional tip.
So, today I thank our carrier force that delivers the newspapers for us. And I am equally thankful for the dedicated staff who works in all facets of our business to ensure a quality product that is full of accurate, essential information each and every day. And to you, our subscribers, who believe in local journalism and make a conscious decision to support it, you are the reason we love our jobs — from carriers to photographer to reporters. Thank you.