To deliver or not deliver

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Got a good read of a local newspaper Thursday morning while taking the car in for regular service, oil change, tire rotation, all that good stuff.

Even better that it cost exactly zero dollars and cents to get the read. And yes, it went back on the waiting room table when I was done. Newspapers are a topic of conversation that everyone and their brother seem to have an opinion about, free or not. Especially people’s local papers.

“I don’t read the paper. I get all my news online.”

Those are comments I hear all the time. I’ve got no problem with it, and it’s hard to argue considering the depth of information that one can get at newspaper and other news-outlet websites. Not happy with the way your local paper puts the news in front of you? No problem, go to the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, heck, even something like the Indianapolis Star if you want.

Other people say things like, “print is dead,” or some amalgamation of that popular catch phrase. Perhaps they heard some television talking head or cyber-news geek say the same thing.

But to me there’s something about the paper that’s just a little more convenient and useful. Feel free to call me a dinosaur.

All the news is packaged right there for you, picked by someone we hope has good news judgment and then approved or at least endorsed by someone else or even a group of people with the same senses.

So, now you’re asking what is the point of all this?

It’s certainly not to help sell papers. After all, The Saratoga Special can be yours any Wednesday through Sunday (and don’t forget all week during the Fasig-Tipton sales) during the Saratoga racing season. You can read all about the sport to your heart’s desire at thisishorseracing.com without entering your credit card information to get behind the pay wall. Alright, I’ll concede that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if you plunked down $36 for a year’s subscription to Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred (or even $20 for a year’s worth of the electronic version). But a monthly magazine is a different animal and perhaps a story for another day.

The point is I’d like nothing more than to “support” one of the local papers in the Capital District. 

The first step in that process involved getting online to said paper and ordering a Friday-Saturday-Sunday delivery of that paper. Friday arrived but the paper didn’t. A phone call to a the circulation department Saturday morning confirmed that no record of the order existed, but they’d be glad to take the information (and payment) over the phone.

“You’ll probably even get the paper tomorrow,” the fellow on the other end of the line said.

Good customer service, albeit complete with a faulty online ordering system.

Sunday arrived. No paper. At least not the paper that I ordered.

The New York Times was there, rolled up neatly in a plastic bag, right by the doormat.

The Sunday Times is a great read, the only problem is I’ve never ordered it. Nor had the previous owners of the house, who told my agent before closing that the paper was some sort of “legacy subscription” that he’d tried to cancel by calling the local distributor and even the home base of the paper that boasts “All the news that’s fit to print” in the top left corner on Page A1.

The first legacy delivery for us included a Christmas card from the carrier, a nice touch at the holidays. Thankfully it included contact information and I sent an email saying this stop could be skipped since we weren’t of the paying-customer ilk.

“Thanks for letting me know. I’ll take it from here,” he replied.

The following Sunday, no Sunday Times. Good work carrier.

But back to the other scenario. The following Friday came and no paper yet again. A phone call produced results. No less than a half hour later came a thud on the front porch and a rolled up news vessel on the mat. Progress.

Mixed results the next day, Saturday. The melting snow had frozen overnight, leaving side streets and even main roads slick. A call to the circulation department and I was told that those conditions had slowed the carriers’ progress. Understandable. The Saturday edition never arrived, nor did Sundays.

Foolishly I gave it another week. No paper Friday, a late delivery Saturday (which I found out via text from the wife, “Your paper arrived!” at 11:51 a.m. as I made my way to Foxboro for the Patriots-Colts playoff game). Ah well, out of sight out of mind I guess. Sunday morning came and I got another text at 9:25 a.m. the contents of which said, “Good morning. No (unnamed, for now) paper but you did get the NY Times!”

All I could do was laugh.

To summarize, I can’t get the paper I ordered to be delivered on time or without a phone call and I can’t get the paper I didn’t order to stop being delivered.

Maybe they’re right.

Maybe print is dead.

I sure hope it isn’t and my optimism will be proved yet again when I open the door Friday morning and look down at the mat.