Editor’s Note: Oct. 11 was International Newspaper Carrier Day. And in recognition of the job they do every day of the year, The Daily News joined along on one early-morning route.
Burning houses, car wrecks, tropical storms and robbers are just a few of the wilder scenes that newspaper carrier Judy White has seen in three and a half years delivering The Daily News to local readers.
“I started driving newspaper routes on July 5, 2012. It was me and my husband doing the one route on Piney Green and we started that to just have some alone time,” White said. “You don’t make much money, but it helps. Most of what you make goes towards your gas, repairs on the vehicle and stuff like that. But it’s enough to get food on the table.”
The newspaper carriers gather behind The Daily News, located at 724 Bell Fork Road, every day around 1 a.m. to collect the newspapers for their various routes.
There are 53 carriers deliving 15,000 newspapers on 70 different delivery routes ranging from Pink Hill in Duplin County to the other side of Beaufort in Carteret County.
“Our newspaper carriers are unsung heroes. They work 7 days a week, 365 days a year in all kinds of weather,” said Don Wilson, the circulation director with The Daily News.
Generally, all newspaper carriers in the U.S. are classified as independent contractors for a newspaper’s media company.
As a contractor, White said she gets paid 24 cents on every paper she delivers and earns about $13,000 annually. Of that, she spends $120 on gasoline every week along with the cost of maintaining her personal vehicle.
The “entertainment” is free.
“I’ve had newspaper carriers through the years that have seen houses on fire and had to call 911,” Wilson said. “Some have seen naked men or women walking on the road or come across car accidents where someone has been trapped in their vehicle for two hours because no one has gone down that road.”
White and her daughter Sarah, 20, continue to deliver some 198 newspapers on three rural routes because, as they say, they have a great time together seeing the unusual sights of early morning Onslow County.
On a recent morning while delivering newspapers, Judy and Sarah White encountered deer, gave treats to two watchful neighborhood dogs and had a very close call with a raccoon that was crossing the road.
“I still do this job because it’s fun; we have a blast out there,” White said. “All the wildlife you see out on the rural routes is incredible, I mean you see so much. You see foxes, coyote, opossums, rabbits, deer — it’s a lot.”
White and her daughter deliver newspapers to the U.S. 258 area, which includes Catherine Lake Road, Northwest Bridge Road, Old Northwest Bridge Road, Briar Neck, Rhodestown and a couple other neighborhoods in that area.
Depending on the day and the time the newspapers roll off the press, it takes White three and a half to four hours to deliver all 198 newspapers on her three routes.
“The papers come in different size bundles depending on the day. Like (Tuesday’s newspaper) isn’t really big because the Penny Savers don’t come out until Wednesday,” White said as she explained the process. “Sarah will rubber band them for me and bag the ones that we have to throw. She’ll put the papers out on the (passenger) side and I’ll do the driver’s side. Most carriers go by themselves, they don’t have the luxury of the extra arm on the other side. So their routes are a little bit harder and it takes more time.”
Despite the help from her daughter, storms like Hurricane Matthew are a special concern because of flood-prone areas along her rural routes.
“The worst part of the job is when it rains. Because you’re still putting papers out when it’s pouring down rain, so you tend to get worried about the weather a lot. Out on the rural routes you get a lot of flooding. So it’s like, ‘Is it going to be really bad? Are we going to be able to put the papers in the boxes?’ We worry that we’re going to run into flooding that we don’t know about or can’t see,” White said.
On occasions of inclement weather or holidays the newspaper will sometimes print early, allowing the newspaper carriers time to complete their routes before serious winds and rain effect their safety.
For more information on how to apply for a newspaper carrier position, call 910-577-7323 and ask to speak to Circulation Director Don Wilson.
Applicants must have a valid N.C. driver’s license, registration and vehicle insurance.