Newspaper "route boys" in New Haven, Connecticut, 1909. (Photograph by Lewis Hine/Library of Congress)
Newspaper "route boys" in New Haven, Connecticut, 1909. (Photograph by Lewis Hine/Library of Congress)

In an announcement that he, Melissa Bell and Matt Yglesias would build a news startup at Vox Media, Ezra Klein talked about the differences between now and an age "when the dominant technology was newsprint." That technology abides. It has diminished in hipness but not in logistical complexity -- print newspapers still require human intermediation to end up on your lawn.

In my time at Poynter, I made it a special mission to chronicle as many stories of newspaper carrier heroism as possible. I truly believe they are America's least-acknowledged first responders. But the ungodly hours they work place them in the path of mischief and misfortune as often as they place them on the road to glory. And sometimes it's just important to celebrate how long they kept at this often thankless task.

If you still receive a printed newspaper, please consider tipping the person who brings it to you. Thank you, newspaper carriers. Long may you be the first to knock on doors.

Rescues by newspaper carriers or rescues abetted by newspaper carriers

  • January: Kansas City Star carrier Jeff Stockwell discovered former Shawnee, Kansas, Mayor Tony Soetaert, who "apparently had fallen while taking out trash" in sub-zero temperatures. (The Kansas City Star)
  • January: Kenosha (Wisconsin) News carrier Ralph Sustaita found a woman lying in the snow while he did his rounds. (Kenosha News)
  • May: Rick Strausbaugh, 53, a carrier for Lancaster Newspapers, "discovered a 2-alarm fire that destroyed a house in Mount Joy Township Sunday morning." No one was hurt. "God bless him for working at that hour,” Rheems, Pennsylvania, Fire Chief Chuck Stanford said. (Lancaster Online)
  • June: Nicholas Belanger, a carrier for The (Woonsocket, Rhode Island) Call, was delivering papers to the Li’l General store in Burrillville, Rhode Island, when he saw "the corner of a house down the street all torched up" and subsequently banged on the door. A “half-asleep, shirtless” man named Ian C. Gianlorenzo “stumbled out” a different door. (The Call)
  • July: A Waxahachie Daily Light carrier who preferred to remain anonymous alerted a family their house was on fire. He left before firefighters arrived, saying "he didn’t want his name in the paper." (Waxahachie Daily Light)
  • September: Don Hardin, 80, a carrier for the Valley News Dispatch, alerted a family that "their SUV was burning furiously and threatening their house." “People need to get their paper delivered,” rescuee Angela Worthing told Chuck Biedka. “Reading it online wouldn't have saved us.” (Valley News Dispatch/TribLive)
  • November: Dorothy Tate, a substitute newspaper carrier for Good News Gaston in North Carolina, saw flames coming from a house and alerted authorities. (Gaston Gazette)

General mayhem involving newspaper carriers

  • January: A driver hit Lakeshore Chronicle carrier Steven Gove, who was traveling by tricycle in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Gove's "entire torso was inside the car,” he told WLUK, but the driver didn't notice for some time. (WLUK, via Poynter)

  • March: A newspaper carrier in Kaysville, Utah, "noticed that a lot of newspapers had not been picked up" at an address and alerted police, who discovered two bodies. (The Salt Lake Tribune)
  • May: A newspaper carrier in Oklahoma City reported gunfire, leading to the arrest of two people. (The Oklahoman)
  • May: Shaun A. Baker, a carrier for The (Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania) Times Leader, faced up to 15 years in prison for a two-year crime spree during which he "broke into at least 100 vehicles and six homes to steal thousands of dollars worth of valuables he stored in his attic." He used his route "to case the neighborhoods," police said. (Citizen's Voice)
  • June: Newspaper carrier Clemmie Gorden was shot at while driving in Fort Myers, Florida. (WBBH, via Poynter)
  • July: Shawn Poliquin, 43, a carrier for the Bangor Daily News, was injured when his car took leave of causeway in Deer Isle, Maine. (Bangor Daily News)
  • July: Two people "ditched their efforts to rob a convenience store in Omaha Friday morning when a newspaper delivery worker walked in." (WOWT)
  • July: A carrier for the Fayetteville (North Carolina) Observer was robbed while getting gas. (The Fayetteville Observer)
  • October: A newspaper carrier in Glendora, California, found a man who was fatally shot. (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Deaths of elderly newspaper carriers

  • January: Henry William Elliott, carrier for the Point Pleasant Register, 75. He was "known as 'dude' by most who knew him." (Point Pleasant Register)
  • June: Marvin Teel, carrier for the Benton Evening News, 90. "In an interview with The Southern Illinoisan last year, Teel argued his five day a week route earned him the title of 'World’s Oldest Paperboy,' given his closest competitor, a 93-year-old California man, delivered the news only once a week. (The Southern Illinoisan)
  • June: Frank Wheeler, carrier for The Des Moines Register, 93. (The Des Moines Register)

Other newspaper carrier news

  • January: A story runs about Carolyn Baglioni, a carrier for The (Annapolis, Maryland) Capital, who informed subscribers in December she was pursuing her dream of becoming a schoolteacher. "At least one former customer is inspired by her story," Wendi Winters reports. (The Capital)
  • May: Tyler and Brielle Zaccone of Pequannock, New Jersey, carriers for The Suburban Trends newspaper, won a limousine ride and a meal at Applebee's. (NorthJersey.com)
  • July: Christopher Young, a carrier for The Charlotte Observer and the Union County Weekly, won a $278,448 lottery prize. (North Carolina Education Lottery)
  • November: Newspaper carrier Charles Barklind lost an election for a seat on the Ramsey County, Minnesota, Board of Commissioners. (LillieNews.com)