CLAY FOSTER: The snow was pretty, but it sure disrupts newspaper delivery

By Clay Foster / NEMS Daily Journal

It’s great that life is returning to normal in Northeast Mississippi as the snow melts and the roads clear. Those of us in the newsmedia business that deliver newspapers as part of the products and services we provide our customers begin each day with the expectation that we will produce and deliver our products and services every day. Occasionally we’re challenged because of mechanical, electrical, computer and related problems, but the expectation is understood and regardless of the means, the end result is the same – a newspaper delivered 364 days a year.
This past week presented a serious challenge for us and our carriers in delivering the Daily Journal and our seven weekly newspapers. As some of you know, we struggled to deliver the Daily Journal on time this past week – especially early in the week. Sunday night and early Monday morning we faced a challenge that we’re less familiar with when the Northeast Mississippi region received snowfall ranging from 6 to 10 inches.
It’s times like these that we’re reminded of what God told Job in Job 38:22-23 when he said, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?” Like Job, this serves to remind us of God’s power and the reality of those things we can control and those we simply cannot.
We strive to deliver your newspaper Monday through Saturday by 5:30 a.m. and on Sundays by 6 a.m. We went to press early Sunday night so our carriers could get a head start, but even with the extra time when Monday morning rolled around we had only completed delivery of 55 percent of the approximately 36,000 papers we had scheduled to deliver and several of those were hard for customers to find because they were covered in snow.
Many of our carriers continued attempting delivery throughout the day on Monday during daylight hours and by Monday afternoon we had completed 71 percent of our delivery. Tuesday was better, but still challenging for our carriers, and by the end of the day Tuesday we completed 85 percent of our delivery to include many of the Monday papers that weren’t deliverable the day before. By Wednesday we reached 97 percent of our readers, but even Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, while most main roads were passable, lingering snow and ice continued to cause problems on some of the rural roads that were not cleared before the hard freeze and prevented a few of our carriers from completing all of their delivery.
Today our delivery process is back to normal. Throughout the past week we began each day committed to restoring on-time delivery as soon as possible and many of our employees and carriers worked hard to try and make that happen every day. While it took several days to reach 100 percent, we saw continuous improvement daily, and more importantly, we learned several lessons that better prepare us for future events like this one that are beyond our control.
We received over 1,500 phone calls last week. While some might think that’s a terrible thing to have to talk with that many customers who are upset because they did not receive their newspaper, we see it as a positive thing that so many people care about the products and services we provide. It’s a reminder to us that we are the first source for local news, and advertisers invest in our newspapers because they deliver results.
Our country has always depended on the delivery of news to its citizens. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.” Perhaps he changed his mind about newspapers after being elected president, but he understood what we take seriously every day, which is the future of our democracy depends on informed citizens. For us to do our part in ensuring an informed citizenry and to accomplish our mission of “building community and improving the quality of life in Northeast Mississippi,” we understand the importance of delivering your newspaper every day on time.
I apologize for any inconvenience our late delivery caused. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact me directly at 678-1505 or email me at clay.foster@journalinc.com.
Thank you for your patience and for caring so much about the news and advertising information we provide you on a daily basis.
Clay Foster is publisher of the Daily Journal and CEO of Journal Inc. Contact him at (662) 678-1505 or clay.foster@journalinc.com.