National Newspaper Carrier Day
annually on September 4th
National Newspaper Carrier Day honors Barney Flaherty, who is believed to have been the first newspaper carrier, and also honors all current newspaper carriers and celebrates the history of newspaper delivery. Flaherty was hired on today's date in 1833, at the age of 10, after answering an advertisement in The Sun of New York City, a penny press newspaper. He is believed to have been hired by Benjamin Day, the newspaper's publisher, after demonstrating to him that he could throw a newspaper over a bush or bushes.
Historically, people have either gotten their newspapers from newspaper boys who were known as newsies, or from paperboys and papergirls. Newsies bought large quantities of newspapers at a discount and stood on street corners while yelling the day's headlines in order to persuade people to buy their paper. Newsies were common at a time when there were multiple daily papers in many cities—newsies are all but gone today.
Similar to, but different from newsies, are paperboys and papergirls. They have a regular route they deliver newspapers to, which includes houses and businesses, and they usually do their deliveries before or after school. In the early twentieth century, delivering newspapers was often the first job of a young person, but not as many of them deliver newspapers today. Nowadays, about 80% of newspaper deliveries are done by adults.
The shift to adults being the primary deliverers of newspapers was due to a few factors. Routes today are often larger and multiple newspapers are delivered by the same carrier, making it too difficult for a young person to complete a route on foot or by bike. There are no longer that many afternoon papers and young people were more likely to deliver them than they were morning ones. Also, more newspapers and news is now available on the internet. Additionally, employment laws have changed over time and there has also been increased concern for the safety of young people who are working on their own.
Young people with paper routes are more likely to live and work in small towns. Some younger newspaper carriers are subcontracted by adults who have large routes, and some have inherited their routes from their parents or grandparents. Many young newspaper carriers deliver weekly community papers or shopper papers, which are often delivered in the afternoon. They also often deliver Sunday papers.
Many people who have gone on to achieve great success in various fields started out their careers as newspaper carriers. Some of them have been inducted into the Newspaper Carrier Hall of Fame, including the likes of Warren Buffet, Walt Disney, Carl Sandburg, and John Wayne. On National Newspaper Carrier Day, we honor them, Barney Flaherty, and all newspaper carriers, for the work they do to make sure we get news on time!
How to Observe National Newspaper Carrier Day
The following are a few ideas on how to celebrate the day:
- Subscribe to a print copy of a daily newspaper, so a newspaper carrier brings you a paper each day. Or, at the very least, buy a print copy of a newspaper from someone today.
- If you already subscribe to a newspaper, give your carrier a gift today.
- Become a newspaper carrier.
- Watch Newsies or Newsies: The Broadway Musical.
- See who is in the Newspaper Carrier Hall of Fame.
- Plan a trip to the Newseum in Washington, D.C.