Newspaper Nostalgia; Pac-12 Under Fire
I delivered newspapers back when I was in the sixth grade. And I'm considering a return to the profession.
More on that in a minute, but first a little background.
Being a paperboy was my first job. It taught me discipline, responsibility, the meaning of work, how to avoid attack dogs, and how to walk up to someone’s front door and ask for payment.
I delivered papers on my bicycle with a large canvas bag slung over my head that held papers on both sides. As I rode down the street, I'd reach into the bag and hurl a paper toward the top step. A perfect delivery would lean up against the front door.
In those days, newspapers were 5 cents. I delivered the Bergen (New Jersey) Record, which published six days a week; there was no paper on Sunday. So each Saturday afternoon, I rang the bell of each of my customers and asked for 33 cents...30 for the newspapers, 3 for delivery.
Think about that. My "salary" for delivering six newspapers was 3 cents.
Most people gave me a quarter and a dime. If I got 40 or 50 cents, it was a bonanza.
I bring all of this up because my wife and I have been having trouble—lots of trouble—getting our San Francisco Chronicle each morning.
We've been Chronicle subscribers for over 40 years. Reading the paper each morning over a cup of coffee and discussing the contents—everything from Bruce Jenkins' Three Dot Lounge to movie reviews to the latest Trump travesty—is an enjoyable part of our daily routine.
So when we don't get a paper, it gets the day off to a very bad start. Unfortunately, it's been happening a lot lately. Either we don't get the paper at all, we get the wrong paper, we get it very late (after 10am), or I have to call and hope for a "replacement" paper.
Apparently it's hard to find good delivery people these days. Used to be, deliverymen and women were employed by the paper and delivered only that paper. Now newspapers use third party services that handle a bunch of different publications. Our guy delivers (or is supposed to deliver) the Chronicle, East Bay Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Sometimes he pulls from the wrong pile and we get the wrong paper.
Last week was particularly bad. The old deliveryman had quit, and the new guy was having lots of issues. After getting no paper Monday and Tuesday, I got in my car tracked him down about 8:30 on Wednesday and Thursday. He was lost in Blackhawk and trying to locate his customers' houses. I gave him a few navigational tips and took my paper.
Friday we got a paper about 8:30. Saturday it arrived at 10:30. Sunday was even later…11:15.
By that time, I'd read the whole thing on line.
Newspapers have been in decline the past 20 years. Most people now get their news online and advertisers have found other ways to promote their products and job openings.
So you’d think an industry that was struggling to survive would make sure it’s decreasing body of customers could get the product delivered. Sorry, not happenin’.
All of this has me thinking about returning to my old job. Hopefully I can still hurl that paper right up to the front door.
Pac-12 Drumbeat: Last week I wrote about the decline of the Pac-12, stemming from its embarrassing television distribution and revenues, as evidenced by poor performance on the field and on the court, an inability to retain coaches, and an increasing inability to recruit top athletes on the West Coast.
I was not alone in my criticism. Here is a sampling of some other media voices:
"I’m no longer confident the Conference of Champions is going to rise back up into a regular CFP participant in short order. The coaching lineup is underwhelming. The recruiting is alarming. And now, I finally share their fans’ panic over the mounting revenue gap between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten/SEC."
- Stewart Mandel, The Athletic
“The Pac-12 is becoming a laughingstock among its so-called peers, a kind of Hot Dog on a Stick mid-major conference dressed out in a goofy hat an a striped uniform, masquerading as a P5, attempting to compete against fine dining.”
- Gordon Monson, Salt Lake City Tribune
“Michigan State knew just where to look when Mark Dantonio left them in a lurch. Same place the SEC’s Mississippi State looked when it poached Mike Leach from Washington State. The Pac-12’s troubles are just beginning.
- John Canzano, Portland Oregonian
“In theory, the Pac-12 and Big Ten are considered equals. Out in the streets, this is high-majors and mid-majors, bullies and victims.” - Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports
“Ultimately, the Pac-12 can’t compete with the rest of the Power 5 in terms of television distribution, keeping its best coaches around and spending the necessary money to prioritize recruiting.”
“P12 Presidents I don’t know what more you need to see. The ‘Conference of Olympic Sports Champions’ has now lost Petersen, Leach and Mel Tucker in less than two months. Each of their decisions were unique but if this is not a final wake up call than you are choosing to not care.”
- Brock Huard, FOX analyst and former UW quarterback
“Whether it is doubling the pay of a coach who has yet to prove his value at that level, like Tucker, or providing significant resources that Pac 12 schools are not going to match, as is the case with Leach, the Pac 12 cannot keep up with other conferences.”
- Tony Siracusa, Last Word on Sports Blog
Absurd Quote of the Week: From Astros’ owner Jim Crane on his team’s sign-stealing fiasco: “Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game.”
Then why did you do it?