In defense of the newspaper carrier

Once again I rise to the defense of the newspaper carrier!

The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls reports that one of its newspaper carriers was arrested for burglary. Apparently, the carrier took note of the “stops” that subscribers phoned in for their vacations, and broke into their homes.

That tidbit comes from the Poynter organization which also relayed the story of a scam run by a guy who would leave Christmas tip notes (I talked about those here). He wasn’t actually a carrier, but he collected the money.

It was the way Poynter led into that story which caught my attention:


In another crime that won’t help newspaper circulation,

Funny stuff. Don’t subscribe to the newspaper because you might become the victim of a crime. You know how newspaper carriers are.

Here’s how newspaper carriers are, with some stories that Poynter missed:

Greg Blackburn was delivering newspapers early in the morning the day after Christmas in Cloquet when he saw smoke coming from an apartment house. Three people are alive because of him – Marlen Salo, 80, and his two adult sons, Mark and Michael – all of whom had been sleeping at the time the fire started.

Coincidentally, a carrier saved a family the next day down in Austin, Texas when a fire broke out. Oscar Hernandez alerted the family, then helped put the fire out.

Poynter also missed the story of Laurie Lambertz, who delivers papers for the Argus Leader. Last week she celebrated 25 years doing so. “A woman with South Dakota pride and values,” one reader said.

  • kay smith

    We awoke early one morning to a fire truck in the driveway and firefighters milling around. One of them knocked on the door and said a paper carrier had called in a gas leak smell. The firefighters tested our gas meter and found nothing but we were so appreciative. Tried unsuccessfully to find which of our two carriers called 911 to tip him/her.

  • Ken Kirby

    im a newspaper carrier for “Anthem” in southern las vegas, NV. i consider myself the nightshift neighborhood watch. as a newscarrier you keep a sheet that has all the addresses on it for your route and when you get vacation stops and restarts you mark these on this sheet. well anyway i keep track of all these people Ex: when people don’t pick up their papers and 3 or more build up on the driveway i place them at the front door. this generally happens once a week and i do this to prevent breaks ins as i don’t want to be liable. One day i received a stop on an address that later that night had water flooding out of their garage door, so i knocked a few times with no answer so then decided to turn off their water main and left a note on the door with my phone number. they called me upon getting back from vacation left a voicemail thanking me for the deed and later sent a tip of $60 to the warehouse i get my papers from.

    remember these things when you see your paper carrier driving by, believe it or not we work hard!!

  • Bob Collins

    That’s just the way I remember it too, Ken. “Nightshift neighborhood watch” = perfectly said.

  • J

    I actually do this job currently. I do have a degree from college, but jobs are so scarce right now I thought I would try it. Granted some of the carriers are a bit scary, but since I have been there most are pretty amazing guys, my first night I worked with a guy who was injured in a industrial accident, had two degrees, but who will hire a one armed chemist now? He also has a handicapped son and a wife with disabilities- the guy is an amazing person and inspired me if he can make it work I will try too. Anyone who thinks its such an easy job should ride a week with one of us, I doubt I even make minimum wage doing this- and with gas going up and up, pretty soon no one will be getting a hand delivered to their door step paper. And yes I do my best to hit it, sometimes the wind catches it and blows it into a place unintended, but I fetch and replace thoes as well. Its grueling getting up every night at midnight to put together and bag 300 papers and then go out and find that many adresses in the dark for most houses that refuse to even leave a porch light on! Every day, every week, all month, no vacation, no health insurace, all for 10 cents a paper. Sounds insane, and wonder how you can make any money doing it at all, but if you stick to it and memorize where everything is you eventually can pick up speed. Then they throw in stops and starts and ghost adresses, its a frustrating job and very under paid, on top of it your charged for the paper bags you use, the table you bag at, the ink and toner used to print your route sheet and extra “in route” insurance wether you have your own car insurance or not!! Should I ever become sufficiently wealthy I will order a paper just so I can tip the poor carrier conned into this job, or forced into it attempting to survive this awful economy!!!