Newspapers cutting carriers

I don’t mean this to be “pick on newspapers” day, but an item today is too interesting to ignore.

As a long-time carrier for a local metropolitan newspaper (retiring after 10 years of early mornings a few years ago), I had a unique insight into the operations. You work 7 days a week, you get in around 2 a.m. (earlier on Sunday morning) and when you a customer would call to complain that you he had to actually stick a foot outside to pick up the paper, the carrier gets charged a $1 penalty ($3 on Sundays). For a successful delivery, the carrier gets about 8.5 cents. So one complaint, and the next 12 papers on a route are delivered at no profit for the carrier. And forget about being reimbursed for the gas.

It’s rough work. It’s rougher when the newspaper itself really doesn’t “get” how important the person who actually brings the paper is to the bottom line.

Take the Washington Times-Herald (Indiana), which let its readers know on Friday that the carriers are being eliminated in favor of the Postal Service.

Says the editor:

I want to emphasize that you will receive your newspaper the same day it is published. It is important for us to give the same great service that your carriers have provided these past several years.

The same day?

  • Al

    Sad. I’m sure the low pay to our carrier is responsible for the alert we get when our paper arrives in the morning. The carrier does not have a muffler.

  • GregS

    I never owned an alarm clock. I got a job delivering papers for the Saint Paul Dispatch/Pioneer Press at age 12 and never needed one after that.

  • Bob Collins

    I still wake up at 3 a.m. and it’s been 4 years!

    I used to have dreams about delivering on the route and not missing anybody (just for the record, the Pioneer Press circulation manager once referred to me as “a legend” among carriers. Yeah, baby!)… then I’d get semi-conscious and say to myself, “geez, if I’m going to dream about it, I might as well go do it.”

    Tip your carrier.

  • c


    Did you use the side walk or did you cut across lawns?

  • Bob Collins

    Sidewalk? What’s THAT? Sometimes I’d cut across the lawn if the subscribers were clustered.

    Sometimes I roller-bladed. I’ve used cross country skiis, too.

    I was a legend, I tell you!

  • c

    I’ll bet you put Superman to shame. What you need is a tshirt with PB or would it be PM on it.(PaperMan)

    Look there on the horizon …rolling! no skiing!!!

    It’s a bus no its a van…


    its PAPERMAN!!!!

  • Paul

    I had an unusual paper route years ago back on Staten Island. It was strictly a choice of several Sunday papers…and it was within the confines of a Catholic hospital.

    I learned a lot about hospital patients and what they are like delivering papers on that route.

  • Chuck

    Delivering papers is definitely the hardest job I’ve ever had.

  • Bob Collins

    Agreed. I mean, think about the atrocious weather you have to be out in no matter what. Plus you had to go to bed at the crack of sunset, it was a 7-day-a-week gig.

    But at the same time, I really enjoyed that time of day.