Forget the cutbacks, the layoffs, the shrinking news hole, the growing reliance on free-lancers. What will kill newspapers is incompetent delivery.
No matter how many times I’ve called The Boston Globe, my paper lands every day at the end of my driveway, not on the patio by the side door. When I got a card from my delivery guy at Thanksgiving, I sent a $25 tip in the hope that would change. It didn’t.
At Christmas, I got another card. I didn’t send another tip. Now things have gotten worse. Last week, the paper landed so far down the driveway that a town plow shoveled it into a snowbank. I found it four or five days later.
Yesterday, I got no newspapers, New York Times or Boston Globe. Today, my Globe arrived shredded. I called the newspaper’s toll-free line at 7 a.m. and was told I’d get another paper by 9. None came. I called back at a bit before noon and waited 10 minutes for a supervisor before hanging up.
On my third try I got a supervisor and a two-week credit. That’s very kind. But what I really want is my morning paper, every day, by my door.
I grew up in an age of newspaper boys who’d deliver the newspaper to our door on Long Island. It was personal as was my family’s connection to Newsday. Perhaps that was the start of my love affair with newspapers. To me, a day without one is a day with something missing.
I love turning the page to discover what’s buried inside. I love reading all the trivia about the basketball game I just watched the night before. On good days, I love being surprised.
Like many avid newspaper readers, I’ve been saddened as they diminish — in size and in stature. Ultimately though, I’m more and more convinced that if they don’t survive it will not be because the Internet is faster or television more visual. It will be because the management system is so clumsy it can’t get the newspaper to our front door.
People won’t read what they can’t reliably receive.