As a former journalist, I’ve had a hard time watching the newspaper industry’s continuing decline. Across the United States, papers are struggling to handle the significant drop in advertising revenue that’s taken place over the 12 years or so.
None of the four daily papers I toiled at during my career are doing particularly well at present. Nowhere is that more evident than at the last paper I worked for, in Columbia, SC.
When I joined the paper as a banking reporter in 1999, it had a business staff of seven, an assistant business editor and a business editor. Today, it has a business editor and approximately 1-1/2 business reporters.
I say “approximately” because the two individuals assigned to write business stories will often find themselves covering non-business subjects, as well.
But things could be worse.
Take the Orange County Register, which this week asked its employees, including its reporters and editors, to deliver the paper’s Sunday edition over the next few weeks.
The California newspaper, which has three Pulitzer Prizes to its credit and is one of California’s largest dailies, started the initiative after a switch in distributors wreaked havoc on home delivery, leaving some routes uncovered and thousands of papers undelivered, according to Slate.
The Register asked employees to help deliver the Sunday edition of the paper until its carrier woes are worked out.
As compensation for the task, which involves sorting and delivering 500-600 papers on a full route and can take as much as six hours to complete, employees can earn $150 in Visa gift cards. A smaller route will earn a $100 Visa gift card.
According to Slate, Register employees likely weren’t in the best of moods even before being asked to help with delivery.
“The paper’s parent company – Freedom Communications – has fallen on hard economic times, resulting in layoffs and lawsuits,” according to the online publication, adding that in September, the beleaguered company even sold the Register’s headquarters.