All the News Not Fit to Deliver

A Customer Service Lament

all the news

“All the News Not Fit to Deliver.” That PLUS “customer service be damned” should be the new motto of both my beloved New York Times and the local newspaper here in Reno, Nevada.

Since Christmas, I have received two days of home delivery newspaper service — just two. Now for some of you, that may amount to a whole lot of “Who cares?” But for me, it is a world of care, worry, and stress.

But for those of you who care about customer service AND/OR the future of journalism in America, this is something to care about.

Reading the NYT is my morning ritual. It is my equivalent of coffee. My caffeinated mental rush to kick-start the day.

It is a ritual I have followed since childhood. Blame it, in a good way, on my parents.

All the News Since I Was a Kid

We were always an NYT family. Growing up, I lamented that my parents subscribed to the NYT instead of a paper with comics. On Sunday, while my friends sprawled out on the floor with pages of brightly colored funny pages, I had to content myself flipping through the NYT Magazine and Book Review Section. I may not have liked it, but it made me an early news reader.

This read-the-NYT-first-thing-in-the-a.m. habit was further drilled into me by my fourth-grade teacher. Mrs. H required the class to follow the news and summarize out loud an NYT story each week, complete with a list of words we had learned from the fancy pants newspaper. We all hated the ritual, but still how many 10-year-olds do you know who debated national and international news on the playground at recess?

Most importantly, that assignment — plus my parents — love of The Times — made me a news reporter and the writer I am today.

So, you can understand why not getting The New York Times delivered daily is a BIG DEAL.

In fact, last year I only agreed to move to Reno with Handsome Hubby after confirming that the NYT provided home delivery in the so-called Biggest Little City in the World.

All the News Delivery Deal

Now you might say, grow up, little girl. Live in the 21st Century. Read the news online. Well, I do, but I don’t like it. I prefer the tactile delight of turning hard copy pages while dripping butter from my bagel.

The joy of reading a “real” newspaper isn’t just in the touch of that paper, but in happening upon unexpected articles I won’t have thought to read. It’s like a treasure hunt, filled with unknown and delightful pleasures. Scanning headlines online, I likely would skip an article on Madagascar but seeing a picture of it, well …! Low and behold, I’ve just encountered something new and exciting. My world and my imagination have expanded.

And, oh, the advertisements in the print edition! Anti-fur me would never buy a sable coat, but I admit seeing a glamorous model decked out in one is glorious!

Chain, Chain, Chain

And why aren’t I getting the papers delivered? It’s apparently the “fault” of the Reno Gazette-Journal, owned and operated by Gannett News. Its carriers also deliver The New York Times. First, the RGJ paper ceased printing a Saturday edition as a cost-saving measure which meant the Saturday NYT would now be delivered on Sunday. Grrr.

Then, for reasons never made clear, the Sunday Times (and therefore the Saturday Times) didn’t arrive until Monday or never. These delays or “no shows” required constant emails and phone calls and much frustration. Hello, customer service. Hello?

Mom Nature Weighs In

Compounding the RGJ delivery lapses, Mother Nature stepped in to inflict additional bedlam. The Times is apparently printed somewhere on the other side of a California mountain pass, Donner Pass —named for the tragically doomed cannibal-eating pioneer clan — which is frequently blocked during wintery snowstorms. When that happens, no NYT makes its way to Reno!


However, since around Christmas, virtually no papers, no RGJ, no NYT, have been delivered at all. Sometimes there’s an excuse. Time off for the holidays. Weather delays. But most often, there’s no excuse. Simply no paper. I log on to my accounts and report delivery problems. I call and report delivery problems. And I demand to speak to “a manager” to report delivery problems. I get nowhere.

Last week I tried exercising my limited “clout.” I called “somebody” I know and asked him to call the senior news editor at the newspaper. Miracle of miracles! The very next day both papers appeared in our driveway.

Then, nothing.

For the next three days, no more papers appeared.

I contacted the senior editor directly, politely thanked her, and updated her about the lack of service. She kindly wrote back and told me about the paper’s shortage of paper delivery personnel.

Labor, Shmabor

Now I understand there are labor shortages across the nation, but I find this answer preposterous. At McDonald’s, which faces the same shortages, I still get my chicken McNuggets even if I wait a minute or two longer at the drive-in window. At my local restaurant, I still get served a tasty lunch on clean plates even though they’ve had a sign out front for months seeking wait staff and busboys. And at Target, the shelves are full of goods even though they’re advertising to hire front and backend employees.

Maybe the overworked, underpaid reporters at the local paper don’t mind that “old-timers” like me who genuinely want to read their work cannot get their papers and read them slowly and leisurely. Maybe they just write their stories for the heck of it. Perhaps they don’t even mind that their mega-media corporate bosses continue to cut costs and maximize profits.

And speaking of costs and profits, here’s a crazy idea, maybe those bosses could increase the wages slightly to incentivize delivery carriers to get up at ungodly hours to deliver newspapers … in the dark … in the cold? It’s just a thought.

Meanwhile, I’m giving thanks to cashier Wei at check stand 10 at the Raley’s Supermarket who is now holding the NYT for me every day … except Saturdays, because even the supermarket cannot get The Times delivered then … or when it snows and Donner Pass is blocked!

8 replies
  1. Judy Keele
    Judy Keele says:

    Oh My Gosh! I thought we were the only people who thought it was totally absurd to get your Sunday RGJ delivered in the mail on Monday!!!!!!!

  2. Rebecca Klenke
    Rebecca Klenke says:

    I totally agree with you as I am one of the few people I know who still subscribe to a printed paper. It’s part of my morning ritual complete with doing the crossword puzzles and a hot cup of coffee. Fortunately, I have a great delivery person who even makes sure my paper is here really early in the morning when I get up. Hope things smooth out for you.

  3. Karen Pollak
    Karen Pollak says:

    Dear Karen
    I am distressed 😫 for you. When we lived in Omaha I could never get the Saturday paper. Not for 42 years. Never
    It was hard enough to get the paper delivered on Sunday through Friday. Weather was always a problem. Tornadoes and blizzards always contributed to the delivery problem.
    Moving to the Bay Area solved most of the delivery issues.
    We love our paper with our coffee in the morning.
    Wishing you NYT delivery issues solved soon.
    Karen Pollak


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