This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Zambian Newspapers

I made my living selling newspapers.  It is a tough job because it is a volume business based on a small mark-up of product.  It is seven days a week, 365 days a year and if you have 100% customer satisfaction, you are just doing the minimum standard.  Ask anyone who worked for me, it was tough.  Ask my kids, and they will tell you all the aspects of growing up in that kind of business.  It did teach them all to work hard and they still do - for that I am proud.

I left home for college thinking I would never have to touch another newspaper again.  However, when my Dad decided to retire I took over his dealership and financially it turned out O.K.  It was an interesting time, watching the demise of newspapers for over thirty years.

Here in Zambia, I am fascinated with the newspaper business.  There are street hawkers everywhere.  They are on every corner.  They sell multiple publications and it must be worth their time.

Walking between traffic and selling when the light is red is common.

No matter how polite the sign is, the truth remains, newspaper people sell information.  If you get it without paying for it, it is a type of theft.

Of course checking out the headline and "above the fold" is the advertising teaser.
This fellow can chat and read at the same time.

Since the internet is still expensive and unreliable, and computer costs are out of the reach of most households, radio and newspapers are still the best source of news.

Depending on your political slant will determine which paper is your favorite.

People do take the time to be informed.

The journalism here is full of rumor and gossip and horrific occurrences.
A journalism class wouldn't be too impressed.

Most of the papers cost about 3 kwacha or $ .55 US.

I've noticed that most drivers pay with a 5 kwacha note or about $ .95 cents US.
This 2 kwacha tip is pretty good if you can sell enough.  Basic Zambia wage seems to be about 10 kwacha an hour, although that is if you live in Lusaka and can get an unskilled job.

Readers are everywhere in the morning, especially after a big government event or scandal.

Remember, this fellow isn't driving, he's the passenger.  Unlike US drivers reading in traffic.

This fellow is wearing the smock of someone who hawks "talk time" for cell phones.  He is taking a break for the latest news.  This act warms an old newspaper guy's heart.
Notice the old street sign he is leaning against.

I really admire the guys who hustle in the morning.  They have their regular customers, know what papers they want and know what tip to expect.

I wonder how long it will be before most Zambians get their news from the internet.
None of my five children subscribe to a newspaper.