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Our view: An ode and elegy to newspaper carriers

Published on October 31, 2017 3:00PM

Last changed on November 3, 2017 8:26AM

EO file photo
East Oregonian newspaper carriers sprint out of the office in 1945 to deliver the critical news. The front page headline reads “War is Over.”

EO file photo East Oregonian newspaper carriers sprint out of the office in 1945 to deliver the critical news. The front page headline reads “War is Over.”

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Newspaper carriers have been delivering in Umatilla County longer than electric light has been around. Beginning in the 1880s, the East Oregonian contracted people to deliver our product around Pendleton when the city was first platted, and later to area farms and nearby communities. Soon, we were delivering to multiple counties and utilizing the mail to send our newspapers across the country and the world.

The mail delivery will still take place. But as of today, no longer will someone come to the back door of our Pendleton production facility, take a paper off our press and deliver it by foot, bicycle or motor vehicle right to your doorstep or newspaper tube.

It’s the end of an era, one we in the business are sorry to see go. Our circulation department has always been a critical part of our operation. No matter how much hard work we did to collect and unearth the news, it was useless if it didn’t get to your hands on time and in one piece.

That was getting harder to guarantee and harder for us to afford. So starting today, we hand that responsibility over to the always-reliable U.S. Postal Service. Though it may arrive later in the day for some customers, we think it will solve a lot of delivery problems and guarantee your paper will get to you each and every publication day. Instead of the doorstep, your paper will arrive in your mailbox.

Still, we will miss the couriers who climbed the hills of Pendleton and hustled down the streets of Hermiston, and the drivers who navigated the dusty county roads before sunrise.

As many people remember, for a century the East Oregonian was an afternoon paper. Hundreds of locals count delivering the EO after school as their first paying gig. There’s no doubt that the word paperboy (or girl) does spur a bit of Americana — nostalgia for the child biking with their wares down a sunny suburban street, grown men hawking competitively on a New York City subway platform, or a paper being delivered in the still-dark morning from a coughing van — the day’s shocking news resting silently, ready to inform a mind and change the world when it is picked up and read.

But the way people consume journalism is changing, as is the way it is delivered. We were one of the last newspapers in Eastern Oregon to deliver our product via carrier, and that has come to an end after almost 140 years. Thanks to everyone who did the job those many, many years.



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