After Distribution Troubles, Boston Globe Staff Deliver Papers Themselves

Photo: Tony Fischer

Last night into early this morning, Boston Globe staff reporters, photographers, and editors alike responded to the recent paper delivery issues across Eastern Massachusetts by adding another bullet to their job descriptions: paper boys and paper girls.

The Globe’s recent switch to ACI media group has created an array of issues with the delivery of newspapers, leaving consumers who prefer print both frustrated and angry. Consumers went to social media to express their anger with the Globe.

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The Globe acknowledged the delays and frustration with a note in their December 30th issue calling the delivery problems the result of a “disruptive but important transition,” referring to the company’s switch to a new home delivery partner. While the note also called for “continued patience” and offered full refunds for missed issues, the Globe staff found another, more direct solution.

Scott Steeves, the president of the Boston Newspaper Guild, proposed that Globe staffers deliver the Sunday newspapers themselves, as a way to get out of what he described as “crisis mode.”

In his letter to the staff, he called for staff from both the editorial and business side of the Globe to meet in Newton, determined to do whatever it takes to get the Sunday paper to frustrated consumers.

Boston Globe delivery tweets flooded Twitter again, however this time with images of journalists staying up all night in the delivery room, and around Eastern Massachusetts, with piles of papers. What started off as a crisis turned into journalists tweeting jokes about their predicament and selfies with newspaper-filled back seats.

For example, @EvanAllen tweeted out that Milton Valencia, who wrote the front page centerpiece of the Sunday edition, would coincidentally be the one to deliver the paper as well.

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As journalists in the Globe stayed both optimistic and light-hearted, shown by the live tweets of this fiasco, over hundreds of papers were successfully hand-delivered in the area.

Even with the heartwarming selfies and videos, angry consumers and media critics have found the outpour of live tweets from Globe reporters calculated. Some even went as far to say as the stunt was pulled to increase dependency on digital newspapers.

“With this snafu, the Globe seems eager to provide nails for the coffin of its newspaper,” said Doug Struck, the Senior Journalist in Residence in Emerson College, told Spare Change News.

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The whole ordeal has raised questions about the future of journalism’s preferred medium.

“Today’s emailed apology for late and missing Sunday Globes practically begs people to go online for their news,” said Struck. “Once they have started that habit, many won’t return to the printed product.”

But while the delivery failure reignited the old print journalism versus digital journalism debate, the consequences have not been as controversial. Despite the initial criticism and online snark, the Globe staff’s efforts put a positive spin on the whole ordeal.

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There has been a variety of reactions to #deliveryfail. However, it is undeniable that the Globe did not hide behind a press release to solve the problem. Instead of leaving consumers clueless, the paper increased transparency and tried to address the problem: even if it was in an unconventional, reporters-turned-into-army-of-newsies sense.

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