Decline of Civilisation: Part ? The Disappearance of Newspapers

Rio Chiquito, NM:  Catholic Church  11/14/14
Rio Chiquito, NM: Catholic Church 11/14/14

The time: 11:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.

The place:  the CVS on Summer Street in Boston’s Downtown Crossing next to the Red Line station.

The cast: A 68-year-old male customer, a 50ish female supervisor, a 20ish female trainee.

Optional Musical Score: ‘Jimmy Brown, the Newsboy’.

The dialogue:

He: Excuse me.  Where are the Globes?

Supervisor: Oh, I’m sorry.  We don’t carry them anymore.

He: Have you any idea where I might find one?

Supervisor: You might try 7-11 across the street.  Otherwise, your best bet is Harvard Square.

He: Thanks for your help.

All smile.  Exeunt.

The Commentary: Back five Red Line stops to find a paper?  Yes, the 7-11 had one, but looking where one would have found papers a generation ago, I found few with The Globe. Not in drugstores, hotels, coffee shops – Starbucks was the exception.  And where have the newsies gone who greeted passengers at the subway entrances?

This morning, my wife spent an hour trying to straighten out an out-of-the-blue bill from The Globe.  She finally was sent up the food chain to a supervisor’s voice mail.  It was The Globe’s billing lacunae that had ended my subscription a half decade ago.

Starting in 1955, I delivered 70+ papers six days a week.  With the help of my brother, I collected from each customer each month.  They got their news, the publisher got $1.50 per month, and I got a pittance, tips and a canvas paper bag.

Today, The Globe can’t tell whether it’s been paid or not, or what it’s selling to whom.  It needs some grade school customer service providers offering door-to-door service.

Whether it’s the New York Times or the Red Sox who own the franchise, the slow garroting of The Globe continues and with it the death of our common culture.


  1. Peter Gilbert said:

    In the last week I received a large manilla envelope with many old commemorative stamps on it, including a 3 cent stamp issued, it says, “In recognition of the important service rendered their communities and their nation by America’s newspaperboys.”
    “Rendered service” that is apparently no longer needed — or wanted, actually.

    Oh, and on the stamp in small print, on the boy’s canvas bag used for carrying the papers, it says “BUSY BOYS BETTER BOYS.” And in one corner of the stamp, hanging in the sky above a street scene from Ward and June Cleever’s neighborhood, is a masculine hand holding a flaming torch not unlike that of the Statue of Liberty, saying on it “FREE ENTERPRISE.”
    The times, they are indeed achanging.


    November 25, 2014
  2. Peter Kinder said:

    I loved that paper route, the challenges of doing it faster and better, the people I met, the camaraderie with other carriers, the other jobs that came out of it.

    November 25, 2014
  3. Peter Kinder said:

    Update: At noon today, a very nice woman called, figured out what had gone wrong, and resolved the problem, all in about three minutes.

    November 25, 2014

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