Photo via Noah Adams for NPR

The Paper Route Is Not Dead (in Carroll, Iowa)

by Katka Lapelosová Aug 13, 2014

I REMEMBER GETTING WOKEN UP by the paper route deliverers in my neighborhood; the slam of the heavy newspaper on our stoop was accompanied by the sounds of Metallica, and the revving engine of their Pontiac Grand Am, at four o’clock in the morning. I also remember the day my father canceled his newspaper subscription, after receiving a Kindle for his birthday. The rise of paperless technology, along with Recession cutbacks, led me to believe that the paper route business was pretty much obsolete.

That’s not the case for the town of Carroll, Iowa, where “Eighty percent of The Daily Times Herald‘s papers are delivered by young people, most between the ages 9 and 17.” They receive the same salary as adult deliverers (ten cents per paper), and they take pride in their work. Many of the kids are able to make $100 a month, for a routes that take less than a half hour to complete.

This particular paper is run by a local family, and while their main competition comes from larger, more regional dailies, supporting their community is important to them, as is offering young people the chance to learn about financial independence. Many of the stories are about things that happen to friends and family members of the delivery employees, including school achievements, community events, and announcements.

Maybe I’m nostalgic, but I admire The Daily Times Herald‘s business structure. They aren’t exploiting the kids they employ, they are helping them to learn about earning money, and best practices for working at a business. It’s an excellent example of community sustainability, something which many neighborhoods are sadly losing sight of.

Read more about this cool story at NPR, which includes an audio component.

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