Unspecial delivery

You live in Michigan and, being an intellectual type, you get the national edition of The New York Times delivered to your house every day. And then the NYT opts to have some new company drop the paper on your doorstep. Should you care?

Probably not — unless the reason you started getting the Times was because you supported the workers who went out on strike against Detroit's two daily rags way back in the previous century and never went back to taking The Detroit News and Free Press, even after the strike was settled, because you so vehemently disapproved of the way those rags treated their employees and, by extension, this entire community, bringing in hated scabs and telling folks in one of the cradles of organized labor that the values they held dear really had no value at all.

If that is the reason you dropped the local dailies and started subscribing to that New York paper, we have a little scoop: You are again doing business with those hated dailies.

Last week the Times dropped a Maryland-based delivery contractor and began using the Detroit Newspaper Partnership to deliver the paper throughout southeast Michigan. That partnership manages all the business operations for the two dailies.

We didn't get anywhere asking spokespeople for either the Times or the Detroit Newspaper Partnership whether they had done anything to inform subscribers of the change. We subscribe to the Times, and it was news to us.

The Times' Abbe Serphos, though, did explain the business logic of the shift:

"As distributors of the local newspaper, they are able to broaden our home delivery reach in Detroit. We will be able to offer home delivery of the Times to many readers who could previously not receive it."

But News Hits heard from at least one subscriber who won't be among them.

A woman who would only give us the name "Diane" phoned to express her dismay at what she calls a "raw deal" in the service change.

Back in 1995, when newspaper workers launched what would become a bitter strike against the city's two dailies, Diane and her mother boycotted the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News and read the strikers' paper, The Detroit Sunday Journal.

When that folded in 1999, they switched to the New York Times and have subscribed ever since.

Their loyalties run deep. When Diane learned from her carrier — despite the company supposedly telling the carriers not to mention it — that her cherished Times would be coming with the Detroit dailies, she was enraged. (Fear that someone at the Detroit Newspaper Partnership would read this and be able to track down the carrier for retaliation was reason enough for Diane not to provide her last name.)

"If we have to get papers from the Detroit Free Press, I don't want it that way," she says. Out of principle, she's taking a higher-priced mail subscription from the Times instead.

Are there many others like Diane out there? Probably not. But we find it interesting that a company that's in the information business wouldn't be up-front with customers.

We just thought someone should deliver the real news.

NewsHits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at [email protected] or

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