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From the Publisher’s Desk – Norman Rockwell has left town

By Keith Whitson

On Wednesday mornings we hold our breath at The Erwin Record. It doesn’t take long before we know if it is going to be a good day or a bad one. It is all determined by telephone calls. If it is quiet, things went smoothly. If the three incoming lines are ringing off the hook, we know one or more have failed.

I am talking about newspaper carriers and the delivery of The Erwin Record. Since we are part of a larger newspaper group, with the Johnson City Press being one, our newspaper is delivered by the same carriers. They pick up the newspapers around midnight on Tuesday and hopefully have the paper in your box by the time you wake up.

Sometimes there are new carriers that aren’t so familiar with their route, some carriers are very dependable and do their best, and then there are those who seemingly don’t care. Do we complain? Yes. Does it do any good? No.

We take getting your newspaper to you seriously. We put a lot of effort into it and we appreciate every newspaper subscription and every newspaper purchased.

We continually update subscriptions in the system. We print out lists of names and addresses for the carriers. We have bundles for every route already counted and sorted. Still, new subscriptions often get missed because they just don’t read the list.

Please, if you don’t get your newspaper in your box, let us know as soon as you can. We put notes in the system for the carriers. We can’t try to correct the problem if we don’t know there is one. A replacement newspaper will be brought out to you the next day. I wish it could be the same day, but costs will not allow it. However, if you happen to be in town, you can stop by the office and pick up a copy of your missed paper.

Kathy Carmichael is over circulation for us at the newspaper. Many of you have been greeted by her when you walk in the office here at 218 Gay St. Others have talked with Kathy on the phone. Kathy takes selling newspaper subscriptions serious.

In her free moments here, she makes call after call telling of our special rates. Yet, week after week we have subscribers call in and say they have had enough. They have been missed again and far too many times, so they will just pick one up at the rack.

Last week I had one subscriber bring in his copy of the newspaper to show me what condition it was in. He has requested that the newspaper be put in his box underneath his post office box, which makes sense.

His carrier continues to throw it in the yard, sometimes with a rubber band around it and other times just lose for the wind to carry it wherever. His newspaper also takes all the elements of weather because the carrier doesn’t put it in a plastic bag which is provided. Last week’s rain completely soaked his newspaper into one heavy, stuck together mess, which has happened before. He is giving us one more chance.

We have handicapped customers who request the newspaper be put on their porch. We try to arrange that but not always with luck.

We also have carriers tell us they ran out of newspapers and didn’t have enough. We know how many newspapers are needed for their route and we know how many we left, along with some extras. Why does this happen? They don’t read the list, but rather go by habit. If your subscription ran out you may still get a newspaper, leaving them short somewhere along the way.

We had one lady call in to say she didn’t get her newspaper. When we looked in the system, here subscription ran out almost a year ago but she had been getting the newspaper uninterrupted due to habit out of the carrier.

Some of you get both The Erwin Record and the Johnson City Press. We have customers call that they got one but not the other when it was the same carrier who should have left both.

Last week we had one customer say they dropped the Johnson City Press but were still subscribed to the Record. However, since they dropped the Press they haven’t gotten the Record. The carrier said it was five miles out of his way and he wasn’t going to take it. Google maps claims it to be less than one half mile.

To all those who have occasional trouble, I deeply apologize.

This isn’t how Norman Rockwell depicted a hometown. Maybe I need some kids on bicycles.

To all the carriers who are reading this and take pride in your work, thank you.

It’s an interesting life working in the newspaper field. Every week we could use the expression “That’s news to me.”