Randy Chapman: Dedication helps deliver your news daily


Whenever there's a colossal winter storm — as we experienced last week and likely again this season — my concern for welfare and safety stretches to the dedicated Post-Bulletin carrier force and their managers out in the element serving customers.

Below freezing temperatures, blinding snow. Who wrote it best? Is it a quote from the Bible or is it Shakespeare? "Neither man nor beast is safe in such weather." Regardless the weather, the vast majority of subscribers receive their Post-Bulletin on or about the usual time. Those who do not are compassionately and patiently understanding.

I marvel that newspaper companies across the country have a peculiar business model. Their well-produced, timely and customer-valued product is placed with confidence into the hands of conscientious youngsters, many much too young to realize the import of their delivery role in the community.

Delivering newspapers provides more than a steady income for carriers. Many are children who experience character development through earning their own spending money. They learn responsibility and discipline through working a "real job." They learn essential people skills — being polite, dependable and service-minded.

In a recent conversation with a community leader, the businessman said to me, "I can always tell when a new employee has had a job delivering papers because it makes the new hire a lot easier to train. The lessons learned from having a newspaper route makes a better employee."


Albeit great business training for children, paper routes also are great for retired individuals wanting exercise and diversion and also for those looking to earn extra money with a part-time enterprise. Time necessary to deliver papers is minimal. The average walking paper route takes less than an hour to deliver, while a motor route takes two to three hours.

I encourage parents and grandparents to learn more about becoming a Post-Bulletin news carrier, if not for the development of young people in their family, perhaps as a vocation for themselves.

Spotlight on journalism

There is one more significant dimension to the community newspaper that I choose to share with you today.

I recently caught a showing of the Academy Award-nominated film "Spotlight." This stunning movie reveals how journalists really do their job.

Even considering my umpity years in the newspaper business, there's always need for a reminder about the power of effective investigative journalism. I cannot recall in the last couple decades a film which has done a better job of showing reporters and editors in their "watchdog" role, digging out important news others want kept secret.

The film tells the story of four members of The Boston Globe's investigative unit, the Spotlight Team, and what happens when they pursue a story likely to antagonize leadership in a community while serving the public good. "Spotlight" illustrates the way news organizations can have a positive impact in their communities and beyond. The Globe won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003 for its investigative work.

The film's over-riding message is that bringing about significant societal change through ethical journalism requires courage, risk-taking and a willingness to upset powerful people and institutions.


Raising awareness

I observe ethical journalism practiced every day in the newsroom of the Post-Bulletin. Much done day in and day out could earn the team here a Pulitzer, yet that distinction matters not to me, the publisher.

What does matter is that the respected team of P-B reporters, photographers, graphic designers and editors collaborate in ways that typify the high standards of quality journalism: verifying and documenting information, providing context for readers and assuring that what is published is as comprehensive and as accurate and as fair as humanly possible.

The riveting story that "Spotlight" reveals is the mission of watchdog reporting and the practices, values and standards behind it. The film serves to re-energize both people's interest and the public's understanding of the importance of investigative journalism.

I went online to read more about the production of "Spotlight." In a video clip, this is what an actor-portrayed editor said to his team that resonated with me: "We have to communicate to the public that we (newspapers) are essential. We have to do that through our work, not just writing columns saying, 'Boy, you know, you're going to miss us if we're not around.' "

One benefit from the film's message is to cause editors, publishers and media owners to rededicate themselves to investigative journalism, that it's absolutely core to our publishing heritage and cannot be abandoned. No. 2, my hope is that this film could cause the public to reflect on the necessity of investigative journalism, to have an adequate appreciation for what's required in order to do it — an understanding of how difficult it is, but also the ultimate consequence to the community – securing and preserving public interest and safety.

Journalism carries responsibility

"Spotlight" is a reminder to society that it's important to listen to the voices of people who have been marginalized, voices that haven't been heard. These are the voices from people who have been pushed to the margins in society. They often have something very powerful to say.


Investigative journalism must be accomplished carefully. It needs to be done with responsibility. The process has to be nailed down tightly and airtight because when it isn't, there is the opposite effect. Confidence in the institution of community journalism is undermined rather than reinforced.

Media publishing is different from a lot of businesses because we have distinct, personal and intangible relationships with the public. It's a matter of credibility and confidence worth preserving. When lost, it is extremely difficult to recover, if ever.

Randy Chapman is publisher of the Post-Bulletin. He welcomes feedback to his column at


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