Saturday, February 11, 2006

Papers & Politics

On a mission to impart some personal responsibility, my son has had a job delivering papers for more than a year now; a job which I must help with, and one that becomes decided more difficult this time of year.

In the winter I begin to think that my neighborhood longs to be part of the third world*. Despite the fact that it's a rather urban suburb of Cleveland, we have very few street lights (none with the exception of two thoroughfares), and the citizens make up for this by not having A) Outside lights or B) Addresses on the outside of the house. When we go to deliver to house in the winter time and we're hunting for addresses, we see this:

Or even better yet, since the little old ladies who do turn on the outside lights abhor ladders or step stools of any kind, their exterior lamps will be mounted right at eye level so that you'll see this:

What I'm left is going down the street with a huge flashlight and shining it in at houses.

The whole operation is aggravating. Without tips, the carriers get paid less than minimum wage (not counting in my and my wife's 'volunteer time'), and not surprisingly the paper has to hire people whose full time job is to find carriers to deliver the paper. One would think that the newspaper business would be making a beeline for the internet, but there they run into two problems. First, they've squeezed every red cent that's possible out of their existing distribution mechanism, and no doubt charging for the paper on the net is a costly proposition. Secondly, 75% of the customers are easily more older than 65 years and wouldn't be able to check there news unless their grandkids came over to help.

Couple that with the fact that the locals are now owned by the same people who own the Plain Dealer, which may be the worst municipal paper in Ohio, and it's not a strong recipe for success.

*(Not that being part of the third world is all that unusual in northeast Ohio, there's more than a few areas where that would be a step up. That reminds me of a sales conference call I was on that involved myself and three other people from the company in question. Two of the people were from god-knows-where, but the third person was local to Cleveland. When I mentioned I was from Cincinnati, her tone changed completely - I was her enemy. As I could tell it was related to left wing jealousy since southwest Ohio elects conservatives and is (comparably) prosperous while northeast Ohio elects left wing kooks and is chronically depressed, notice a pattern? I was able to derive this when her coworkers pressed her for the differences and she stumbled to keep from saying.)

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