Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NEWS Delivered at Dawn

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NEWS Delivered at Dawn

Article excerpt

Earlier deadlines mean many youth carriers lost

If it seems like newspapers are appearing on the doorsteps of America earlier than usual these days, don't be surprised.

In the latest move to stem the falling tide of circulation, many large and small newspapers are moving up delivery times so readers can get papers early enough to read before heading off to work.

Citing demands from readers who are commuting farther in the morning, getting more done before breakfast, and having less time in the morning to read a newspaper, circulation and marketing directors say they have to deliver papers earlier or face canceled subscriptions.

"There are thousands and thousands of people who are up and out a lot earlier," says Rolf Arend, strategic planning manager for The Boston Globe, which went from a 7 a.m. delivery deadline to 6 a.m. last year. "A lot of it has to do with people moving out farther from the city and having a longer commute to work."

The Globe is not alone.

According to a 1997 survey by the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), 82% of morning newspapers had a target delivery time of 6:30 a.m. or earlier, with 44% providing a 6 a.m. delivery. Among those surveyed, 18% had initiated a change within the last two years.

A more recent NAA survey showed that 20% of newspaper executives blamed lost Sunday circulation on late delivery times, while 29% planned to implement an earlier delivery deadline within the next two years.

"Readership studies tell us that readers want the paper earlier and earlier," says Terry Thompson, circulation director of the San Jose Mercury News, which will switch from a 6:30 a.m. delivery to 5:30 a.m. in the fall.

The earlier deadlines have caused some conflict for newspapers, ranging from the impact on editorial deadlines to the elimination of youth carriers who cannot legally work before 6 a.m. in some states. For editors, earlier deadlines often mean leaving out late meeting coverage, west coast sports scores, or other night events.

Arend says the Globe implemented the earlier delivery by moving up the deadlines of editorial, production, and delivery by 20 minutes each. About 70% of the Globe's 470,000 readers receive the paper through home delivery, says Arend, who says that makes them the most important readers. The earlier delivery did not add additional costs to the production expenses, Arend says, but he says it required the phasing out of youth carriers.

At the St. …

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