Paper Route

One of my first paying gigs as a kid was delivering the local paper. For maybe a year or two I shared this responsibility with my older sister and younger brother. I still remember the delivery truck dropping our route’s stack of newspapers at our doorstep before sunrise. From there we rapidly tuck-rolled each paper and like cords of firewood filled the front and back pouches of the canvas delivery vest. It was a relatively easy route; four cul de sac streets, a couple apartment complexes and some outlaying developments – still a fair amount of work for kids (and helpful parents) willing to earn a dollar.

I didn’t mind the delivery, it was collecting subscription fees that really stunk. I still remember going door-to-door with that ring-bound book of perforated date tabs printed on index card-sized pages each bearing the subscriber’s name and address. I recall knocking timidly on all those subscriber’s doors awaiting an answer and simply uttering the word ‘collect’ when someone did. Looking back I think they despised the whole process as much as we did. In fact, I would bet that many simply didn’t answer to delay having to pay for the paper. I really didn’t care if they did, because it made the unpleasant task much shorter.

As miserable as delivering fish wrap was, it did require a lot of values that I wish to teach my boys. I don’t know that I’ll ever encourage them to don the canvas delivery vest anytime soon to hoof through the neighborhood during the wee hours of daybreak, but a good dose of responsibility beyond doing household chores would certainly prepare them more for the adult responsibilities of employment… On second thought, do households of delivery boys get a FREE subscription?

The Future of Newspaper

With the advent of digital readers like the Kindle and the iPad, is the future of the daily newspaper in jeopardy? One of the things that I think caught most newspapers off-guard was the internet. I’m sure several doubted the far-reaching cultural impact this technological advance would have on societal norms, but when every other business under the sun was jumping on the dot com bandwagon newspapers followed suit cloning online content from their printed counterparts. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal had they not offered any of the content online for FREE. Now that more and more people go to the web for their daily intake of news, the printed word becomes less of a service that people are willing to pay for. Will it ever die completely? I don’t think so, but newspapers better find a way to develop a digital subscription to their online publications that won’t anger their customers. It’s going to take revenue to keep those presses running, even if that revenue comes from online subscriptions.