I had to laugh at this full-page ad in the July 19, 2021 edition of the N&O because, in my experience, big tech isn’t the most harmful threat to local papers, it’s the distribution company and delivery driver. I’ve been taking some combination of local and national newspapers for the last 25 years. Always in the mix is the N&O; most of the time I get USA Today, and on Friday and Sunday I get the NYT. It’s expensive, but I like to hold the paper in my hand and read the news. I also have online subscriptions for Washington Post and NYT, but nothing beats a physical newspaper. But I’m done – my newspaper distributor has broken my spirit and love for the print newspaper.
Between Jan 2 – Jul 21, 2022, my newspapers were late or not delivered 32 times. [Important note: May 22 – Jul 18, we had interim drivers who were ALWAYS on time and here, and corresponded by text if there were any issues.] And by late I mean, I had to text the distributor multiple times over the morning because the delivery driver never showed up. Never texted. Some days it’s because the driver was doing who knows what for who knows why (I don’t care). It’s not my job to remind the newspaper distributor to deliver my paper. My delivery driver is so unreliable that USA Today has us permanently on mail delivery only. It’s just not worth it any longer. I’m canceling it all.
And as I prepare this post, both the News & Observer and USA Today sent emails about cheap subscriptions. These rates are a honey trap for a newshound like me, but my good mental health can’t take another week of text-arguing with B.M., or leaving countless voicemails and still being ignored by B.A. My rural address is 42 miles from N&O headquarters on Fayetteville Street, where the paper is printed. It is a literal straight shot down one of the major highways that bisects the state. The distributor is just that shitty.
Here’s my takeaway: if you live in rural communities in North Carolina, you cannot rely on print newspaper delivery. So suck it up, because you can’t rely on high speed internet either. Good luck!