The worst job in journalism?
The Pickering News Advertiser wants you! The ad says it all – you can make money delivering papers that are pre-inserted, take part in cool carrier events and learn important business skills. The most important business skill the newspaper teaches its young employees – and one that will come in handy once the teenage paperboys and girls start looking for internships – is how to work free.
That’s because the paper – which has a press run of 54,000 and is stuffed full of flyers and ads three times a week – doesn’t give its carriers any money. Instead, it has them ask the homeowners on their route for $6 every three weeks that goes directly into their pockets. If homeowners don’t want to pay, they don’t have to as long as they understand that they will continue to be asked every three weeks if they have changed their minds.
Every few weeks, the flyers come wrapped in a colourful advertisement that reminds us of this important fact in rainbow letters. It says “Who pays your newspaper carrier? YOU DO!” It also asks readers to “Please reward your carrier for the quality service they provide.”
It doesn’t add “because we won’t.”
In fairness, the paper does believe the teenagers who deliver its papers are getting something more valuable than money from their part-time job. The ad says my carrier is (these are all quotes):
- Learning the value of responsibility
- Ensuring I receive my paper and flyers directly to me home
- Delivering to my house in rain, snow, extreme cold or heat
- Ensures on time delivery.
I called to talk to the publisher the first time my teenager carrier asked me for money, because I thought the kid was lying to me. The publisher said it’s always been that way for the paper, and that most people are happy to pay the carriers.
Everyone, that is, except the publisher.
The paper, by the way, is part of Torstar and is apparently the only one in the Metroland division of community papers that has this arrangement with its young carriers. Torstar posted a profit of $35-million in the last quarter.