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Newspaper Carriers Work With Rivals

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Well, we've heard about cruise ships and airlines making changes in hopes of permanently reducing their fuel bills. Now, to some smaller players in the economy, a couple of people who buy fuel by the gallon, not the tanker, and to tally their energy costs in hundreds of dollars, not billions.

AUDIE CORNISH: So, I'm Audie Cornish here in Nashville with Frank Saracino. He's a newspaper carrier who delivers to hundreds of stops across the county. And with the summer gas prices, that has meant big changes to his budget. So Frank, tell us what is your weekly budget for gas?

Mr. FRANK SARACINO (Newspaper Carrier): Roughly $300 a week.

CORNISH: That's 50 percent higher than last summer. And Saracino doesn't get reimbursed for mileage. His main client is an alternative weekly called the Nashville Scene. Saracino putters from gas station to barber shop in a minivan, adding papers to plastic seam boxes and wire racks. And he meticulously checks the number of leftover from the week before.

Mr. SARACINO: We have an empty seam box already for 50 publications. And my American Classified is running low.

CORNISH: Saracino gets paid by the stop. To cut their cost, his publishers are now dropping locations that don't move 25 papers or more. And that's money out of Saracino's pocket, so were high fuel cost.

Saracino has had to make long-term changes to the way he does business. He mostly delivers on Sundays and evenings to avoid traffic, and he consolidates routes to piggyback deliveries.

Mr. SARACINO: But it's very hard because it - they don't crisscross that often, you know? Or I'll work with another driver where he'll run some of my stuff and I'll run some of his stuff.

CORNISH: He's not the only one. Nationwide, more than 40 percent of U.S. papers now collaborate with a competitor on delivery.

Audie Cornish, NPR News, Nashville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Audie Cornish
Over two decades of journalism, Audie Cornish has become a recognized and trusted voice on the airwaves as co-host of NPR's flagship news program, All Things Considered.