From the Editor: Delivering newspapers carries challenges

Farm Forum

Last week, I spoke almost daily with one of our most loyal readers.

She is 96 and lives in North Dakota. She has been taking the American News for 55 years.

Her calls began not too long ago, but have picked up in frequency in the last week, enough that I know it’s her voice, raspy but forceful, and with a determination you hear in very few phone calls.

She isn’t getting her paper. And she is not happy.

“I am going to call you every day until I get my paper delivered on time,” she tells me. “I need the news today, not tomorrow.”

I use my phone friend as an example of the challenges we — we, the newspaper and the readers — sometimes have with delivery.

In this case, because of the great distance, the customer gets her paper by mail. Sending the newspaper by mail rather than through a contracted newspaper carrier presents its own issues.

Here is how our mail delivery works, roughly speaking.

Of about 14,000 subscribers, about 2,000, give or take, have the paper mailed to them through the post office. That’s a big number; most papers deal with tens of mail customers, not thousands. In fact, the big block of white space on the top right side of our front page is there for the mailing addresses of our postal customers.

When we print our paper about 12:30 every morning, the first papers out are usually the ones that have to travel the farthest. This initial wave includes the mail papers.

For those with ZIP codes beginning with 574, the papers get to the Aberdeen post office in the middle of the night. Those papers should be delivered the same day with the mail: Tuesday morning’s paper comes Tuesday afternoon, and so on.

Because there is no Sunday mail, the Saturday paper should arrive Mondays for 574 customers. The Sunday paper should arrive Monday — with the Monday paper slipped inside for easier delivery.

For those outside the 574 area, it gets trickier. Those folks are farther away. Again, we get the papers to the post office the night they are printed. But non-574 customers generally get their papers a day late: The Tuesday morning paper arrives with the Wednesday mail.

What’s tougher for those customers is that the Saturday paper should arrive Monday, but the Sunday-Monday combo arrives Tuesdays.

Factor in all the issues the post office has to deal with, and you can see why folks, such as my caller, have problems. She tells me she sometimes gets several papers, days old, delivered all at once in the middle of the week.

Our publisher, Cory Bollinger, had a similar caller, this one from rural Frederick. She loves the paper, but was having trouble getting it by mail. As the problem was being worked out, she switched to the E-Edition.

A couple of weeks later, she called Cory to say how much she loved getting the paper electronically. It always arrives by 4 a.m., and it’s dry.

I’m sure she would still want to get her print edition, considering it has all the inserts, but the E-Edition was a good fix.

Anyone who subscribes to the American News in any format — even mail delivery — has access to the E-Edition and our website. This includes,, our iPad app, iPhone app and Android app. This can be a good alternative in a pinch.

This probably won’t help my caller. She needs to get her paper.

For her sake, I hope I don’t hear from her again — that means she’s getting her American News the way she wants it.

But I think I might still miss getting the call.

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