Native Newspapers Strive Mail Supply as Drivers Select Higher-Paying Gigs

The writer of the Odessa American discovered it so tough to search out staff to ship the West Texas newspaper in recent times that at one level he dealt with the job himself. 

Then earlier this yr,

Patrick Canty,

the paper’s writer for twenty years, reduce the paper’s print circulation from seven days every week to 2 and began mailing the problems to subscribers utilizing the U.S. Postal Service’s same-day supply choice as an alternative of counting on supply drivers. 

Many native information publishers throughout the U.S. are selecting to mail their newspapers to subscribers as they deal with driver shortages—an issue exacerbated by excessive gasoline prices, wage inflation and the secular decline of the newspaper trade that has meant that subscribers in some areas are too few and much between for conventional supply to make sense. 

Patrick Canty, writer of the Odessa American


Odessa American

The variety of newspapers despatched to subscribers or bought at newsstands has dropped by a couple of third in 2½ years, in accordance with current information from the Alliance for Audited Media that appears at circulation for the highest 50 newspapers.

“It’s onerous on an individual,” Mr. Canty stated of the supply job, which initially took him from midnight till about 11:30 a.m. He stated most of the individuals who used to ship the Odessa American have discovered jobs with higher hours and pay, together with working within the native oil fields or for food-delivery providers.  

Cody Idom, a 43-year-old who used to ship the Odessa American, stated he wasn’t in a position to make sufficient cash to justify the paper-delivery job after the Odessa American diminished its circulation. He additionally stated excessive fuel costs made supply jobs, together with an usually higher-paying gig with food-delivery service DoorDash, barely worthwhile. “I used to be solely making about half of what I used to be getting paid,” Mr. Idom stated. “The remainder was going to fuel.” 

A couple of weeks in the past, Mr. Idom began as a full-time worker of a neighborhood Domino’s Pizza. He stated he delivers pizzas throughout daytime hours, will get paid an hourly wage and doesn’t really feel the sting of fuel costs as a lot.

Chris Reen, president and CEO of Readability Media Group, writer of a number of native publications, together with the Colorado Springs Gazette, stated the corporate is contemplating mail for some regional papers however grappling with the concept readers who depend on print will probably be getting outdated information.

Gannett Co.

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, the most important information writer within the nation, final yr started exploring changing service supply with mail supply in a small variety of native markets the place it has been hardest to recruit drivers, together with South Bend, Ind., the place subscribers on some supply routes are too unfold out. 

Subscribers getting newspapers within the mail have a excessive chance of getting the problems the identical day, although it isn’t assured by the Postal Service, a Gannett official stated.


Brandon Bell/Getty Photographs

The corporate, which publishes greater than 400 print titles, together with USA In the present day and the Detroit Free Press, is at present mailing papers in about 20 markets and plans to exchange a minimum of some routes with mail in eight extra markets this month. 

Subscribers getting papers within the mail have a excessive chance of getting their papers in some unspecified time in the future the identical day—higher than 99% on common—although it isn’t assured by the Postal Service, stated

Wayne Pelland,


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senior vice chairman of publishing operations. Usually, half are getting their papers within the morning, and half are getting them within the afternoon, he stated.

The consistency of supply by mail has helped ease buyer complaints about not getting their papers on time, stated Mr. Pelland.  

“We don’t use our newspapers as breaking-news autos,” stated Amalie Nash, senior vice chairman of native information and viewers improvement at Gannett-owned USA In the present day Community. She stated the corporate depends on its digital platforms for breaking information and subscription development. 

Brad Hill, CEO at Interlink, an organization that helps publishers transition to mail supply, stated that publishers’ demand for mail supply has skyrocketed previously couple of years. 

“You may usually mail a neighborhood newspaper throughout city for 15 cents or much less,” in contrast with about 30 to 50 cents, and in some circumstances as a lot as 80 cents, for conventional supply, stated Mr. Hill, who works with greater than 2,000 publications throughout the nation.  

The Salt Lake Tribune in January 2021 diminished its circulation from seven days to 1. The change made it much more tough to search out drivers who had been already quitting for various jobs, stated Chris Stegman, who had joined as chief income officer a pair months earlier. 

“Abruptly, a dishwasher could make $22 an hour,” Mr. Stegman stated. “I’m not evaluating the roles, however as pay elevated in all positions, this one to stand up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning to ship papers and never make a lot cash just isn’t very enticing.” 

In January, the Salt Lake Tribune switched to mail supply and elevated its print circulation to 2 days every week. The papers can arrive at subscribers’ houses anytime that day with the remainder of their mail. 

A Gannett printing facility in New Jersey. The corporate publishes greater than 400 print titles, together with USA In the present day and the Detroit Free Press.


Lark-Marie Anton/Gannett

Some native publishers are realizing important price financial savings after they swap to mail supply, greater than offsetting minor losses of subscribers who don’t need mail supply. 


Do you continue to get your native print newspaper? Why or why not? Be part of the dialog under.

Invoice Marcil Jr., chief govt of Fargo, N.D.-based Discussion board Communications, stated the corporate lowered supply prices by 25% after it reduce ties with its 600 carriers and switched to mail supply for almost all of its 11 each day newspapers and 10 weeklies. He stated Discussion board Communications is investing within the digital model of its newspapers however acknowledges it’s a powerful transition for some aged subscribers. “That is their connection to the world,” Mr. Marcil stated.

Mr. Canty, the writer of the Odessa American, stated the corporate is reinvesting its price financial savings. Since switching to mail and decreasing its print circulation, the writer has launched and is planning new sections primarily for its digital merchandise, together with leisure and vitality sections. Mr. Canty stated he hopes to ultimately increase protection of the cities the place the corporate had stopped delivering papers. 

“I’m sick and uninterested in making the newsroom a whipping board for cuts,” he stated. “We will focus extra on information and content material technology.”

Write to Alexandra Bruell at

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