Today is Newspaper Carrier Day. If any group of workers in our society deserves its own day, it is newspaper carriers.
If you are reading the print edition of this newspaper, that means someone picked up your newspaper from our distribution center in the wee hours of the morning and spent most of the night navigating dark, sometimes rainy streets, placing newspapers in tubes so it could be there to be read with a nice cup of coffee. It’s the perfect start to a day.
The carrier not only did that today. They did it yesterday as well and will do it again tomorrow. Unlike mail carriers, newspaper carriers typically deliver seven days a week, in the dead of night. I have seen them deliver through terrible winter storms and through sub-zero nights with their window down, tossing papers out where they need to go. It’s not an easy gig.
Each night, Herald Courier carriers deliver more than 10,000 newspapers. While the digital side of our readership continues to grow, a large number of loyal print subscribers still depend on carriers to get the newspaper to them each night. Sometimes, our readers are looking for the latest local news. Other times they grab the newspaper out of the tube looking forward to the daily crossword puzzle.
The labor shortage we are currently experiencing has not only affected restaurants and front-line retail workers. People wanting to be newspaper carriers are currently difficult to find as well. There are presently nine routes without carriers. That doesn’t mean the Herald Courier isn’t delivering newspapers to those customers. Some carriers have doubled up on routes. Other routes are being covered by our regular circulation staff members who also work office jobs here at the newspaper during the day.
The open routes are in Bluff City, Bristol, Abingdon, Lebanon and Cleveland. Anyone wanting to join our carrier force can find the “Become A Carrier” link at the bottom of the Bristol Herald Courier website, or you can call Larry Wheeler at (276) 645-4400. There is currently a $500 sign-on bonus for new carriers.
Our news reporters can write wonderful award-winning stories, and often do, but if no one shows up to deliver the newspapers those amazing words sit paralyzed, unread on the dock.
Our newspaper carriers are a critical part of the process of getting the news to our readers. They definitely deserve this day of honor along with a hope for fair weather and safe travels.
Roger Watson is managing editor of the Bristol Herald Courier.