Take a look at any recent copy of the Star Tribune and you will likely happen across a quarter-page ad trumpeting an “IMMEDIATE NEED” for newspaper “carriers, assemblers and product stagers” throughout Minnesota.
Rather than working directly for the Star Tribune, the carriers that deliver the paper work for 21 separate distributors and they don’t deliver from bikes.
“The days of the 12-year-old delivering the paper in the dark are long gone,” says Steve Yaeger, Star Tribune CMO.
Newspaper carriers work a demanding part-time job, which may explain why they are in short supply. “Delivering isn’t for everyone,” says independent distributor Tim Klava of Elk River. “Most start between 2 and 3 in the morning and they’re done by 6.” They also handle national publications like the New York Times and even Strib competitor St. Paul Pioneer Press.
As for the aggressive display ads, Yaeger denies that delivering newspapers has evolved from a kid’s first job to an adult’s career of last resort. “I wouldn’t mistake the frequency of those ads to connote turnover with the deliverers. There is inevitability to there being a constant need for them.” Still, after an he penned unflattering post about delivery problems, Yaeger told media blogger Jim Romenesko that the company is struggling with a shortage of carriers.
Klava elaborates: “About 90 percent of my carriers have been with me for years. There’s that 10 percent that come and go. We’ll be in a constant need to cover that 10 percent.” The sell is earning “up to $1,500 a month” working in the pre-dawn hours without benefits or a company vehicle. Given the particulars, it’s not surprising that the immediate need may actually be a perpetual desperation.