Morning Coffee and Gossip: Tales from a Newspaper Editor’s Delivery Rounds

Although I started working for newspapers at age 12, my experience delivering newspapers wasn’t until adulthood. During my years editing […]

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Although I started working for newspapers at age 12, my experience delivering newspapers wasn’t until adulthood. During my years editing neighborhood newspapers in St. Paul, I would sometimes have to step in and do what are called “bundle drops.”

I would load my truck and take newspapers to a set list of businesses, schools, recreation centers and other spots, leaving a set number of newspapers in each place. If we had newspapers left from the previous issue, or if papers were a mess, I’d tidy up the area and then go to my next stop.

It was a good experience in that I got to know our advertisers and the places we served. It was easy enough to adjust the number of papers dropped at a location.

It also could become fodder for gossip, alas. In St. Paul’s Frogtown and North End neighborhoods, we had bundle drops at bars. The bars would open in the morning and that was when papers got delivered. I’d often have coffee and a doughnut. That is not what most people think of as bar fare. But in neighborhoods where there were not restaurant choices or places to sit before heading to work, that was where the morning coffee and gossip were offered.

So if you saw the editor headed into a bar at 8 a.m., don’t jump to conclusions.

Delivery can cause all sorts of problems. Years ago I worked at a paper where a young newspaper carrier decided he did not want the character-building experience of being a paperboy. That’s what we called them then.

He dumped papers in a storm drain, the drain eventually backed up, the storm sewer line broke and caused flooding. And that’s why newspaper carry insurance.

Access Press has papers mailed to Greater Minnesota sites, and dropped at various locations in the Twin Cities area. Our delivery firm, independent Delivery Service, recently shut down after losing a major client.

Two of the company’s longtime employees stepped up and will be doing the Twin Cities area bundle drops as of February.

This also provided a chance for me to update the delivery list. The reality is that fewer places allow bundle drops. The reality is that newspaper stacks can get messy. Not everyone grabs the back issues and recycles them when the new ones arrive.

The recent pandemic also had many places being more restrictive with what is allowed in, and papers were among the first items to be banned.

Our delivery list is a work in progress, so do me a favor. Is there a place where we should deliver papers? is there a place where papers are no longer wanted? Email me at [email protected] and let me know.

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