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Steal Your Own Paper

Back in college I had the perfect part-time job: union scale for no work. I worked the weekend graveyard shift in the radio room of the StarTribune newspaper, monitoring police and fire radio. My job was to keep a log and to wake a photographer in case something particularly gruesome occurred (like 6 kids dying in a house fire, that made the front page).

One of the perks was being able to read the final edition of the next morning's paper as it literally rolled off the presses. No more, I guess. Jeff Jarvis mentions that the StarTribune no longer provides free newspapers to its newsroom, instead setting up vending boxes throughout the office. However, the revenue was somewhat less than expected. The circulation manager sent a memo:

During the first week that the additional on-site racks were in service, 43 percent of the Star Tribunes removed from those racks were not paid for. For the second week the rate was 41 percent. This is called ‘pilferage’ in our business; but put more plainly, it is theft, pure and simple.

As an aside, the newsroom was the dirtiest and grimiest workplace where I've ever worked, nothing at all like the bright and shiny newsroom they showed on Lou Grant. And I never did figure out why our desk contained sheets and sheets of printed address labels for the law office of former Vice-President Walter Mondale.

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