When you go out to the newspaper box to retrieve The T&D on Saturday, pause a moment to think about a special day for the person delivering the morning news. Oct. 7 is International Newspaper Carrier Day, an observance set aside to recognize that special breed of individual willing to brave the night and so much more to make the delivery.
And deliver they do. At The Times and Democrat, we’re proud of our record of not missing an edition, from the newspaper building fire and great snowstorm in the ’70s to Hurricane Hugo in the 1980s and the Great Ice Storm of 2004. Then came three recent years of trials and tribulations: the ice storm of 2014, the record flooding of 2015 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Through those types of tests, the people who actually did the “hard lifting” were newspaper carriers, those people who had to hit the road to get newspapers to subscribers. Sometimes, the papers were overdue, but they did arrive.
During crises such as the Great Ice Storm in January 2004, subscribers told us particularly what the newspaper meant. With so many people in the dark as falling trees and limbs put out power for days, there was no television, no Internet, and many times even no radio, to provide news. Going out to that newspaper box every morning and finding a T&D was like reassurance that in an abnormal world, at least something was as it should be.
The news team of The T&D has won national and state awards for coverage during such disasters, but newspaper carriers have been the unsung heroes.
Toward understanding: A newspaper carrier’s job begins after midnight. It is a seven-day-a-week obligation. During the hours they work, carriers are often alone on the roads, sometimes until nearly dawn.
They learn their routes and know most of their customers. Their job becomes a mission much like that of the mailman, with that commitment not to miss an appointed round.
Newspaper carriers are independent contractors. They purchase the papers from The T&D at wholesale prices and sell them to customers at retail. The requirements made of carriers are that they have dependable transportation, and a backup vehicle; that they have someone to substitute for them in an emergency; and that they live in proximity to the area in which they will be delivering.
Along with the carriers, there are also the bundle-droppers delivering papers to carriers. Call them the wholesalers of the newspaper delivery business.
“We have really been lucky with our carriers,” T&D Circulation Director Barbara West-Ravenell says. “They are dependable and willing to do what they need to do to get the job done. Without them, I don’t know what we would do. They’re some of the best parts of this whole operation.”
On Saturday, we hope you’ll join us in saying thanks to them.