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Paperboy- A boy who sells or delivers newspapers.

"The position of paperboy occupies a prominent place in many countries. This is because it has long been the first paying job available to young teenage boys. Newspaper industry lore suggests that the first paperboy, hired in 1833, was 10-year-old Barney Flaherty." [1]

In the late 1800's, paperboys were often young entrepreneur as well, because "newsboys were not newspaper employees but instead free agents who bought their papers at a discount and were unable to return unsold copies. It made for a very rugged life and a sole means of support for many thousands of homeless children." [2]

Barney Flaherty

It was on September 10, 1833 that 10 year old Barney Flaherty became the first official newspaper carrier. Benjamin Day, who was the publisher of The New York Sun, hired young Barney Flaherty to sell his papers for a penny apiece. Legend has it that, the only job requirement asked of young Barney was that he had to prove to Mr. Day that he was capable of throwing a newspaper into the bushes with consistency.

Newspaper Carrier Day is celebrated in the United States and honors Barney Flaherty as well as all current newspaper carriers. It is observed on varying dates but marks the anniversary of Flaherty's hiring at New York Sun.

Kid Blink and the Newsboys Strike of 1899

In the late 1800s, the two most powerful men in the newspaper industry were Joseph Pulitzer (the New York World) and William Randolph Hearst (New York Journal).

Newsboys were” desperately poor, often homeless and starving. They were not employees of the newspapers, they simply bought the papers by the bundle, 100 papers for 50 cents, and sold them on the streets for a tiny profit. The newspapers would not buy back unsold copies, so while a slow news day might mean a reduced profit for the publishers; it meant missed meals for the newsies.” [3]

During the Spanish-American War, publishers raised the cost of a newsboy bundle from 50¢ to 60¢. At the end of the war, most publishers returned to 50¢ a bundle. Hearst and Pulitzer decided to continue charging 60¢, this was more than the newsboys could bear. In 1899, an estimated 10,000 newsboys worked the streets of New York City. In the month of July, 1899, an organized group of about 5,000 newsboys shut down the city of New York. They marched onto the Brooklyn Bridge and other places around the city in order to stop traffic.

The Newsboys Strike was lead by Kid Blink (Real name possibly: Louis Ballatt), a boy of about 13 or 14 who had an eyepatch over one of his eyes. It may well be that he was simply called Blink by his friends and that it was the newspapers of the day that dubbed him “Kid Blink” because he was a kid nicknamed Blink. He is reported to have said, “I’m trying to figure how ten cents on a hundred papers can mean more to a millionaire than it does to newsboys, an’ I can’t see it,” he said, “If they can’t spare it, how can we?”

It is often suggested that millionaires Hearst and Pulitzer, during the course of the strike. paid off several of its’ organizers to keep quite including Kid Blink, which is understandable considering that they were not experienced hardcore unionists but rather poor, starving, street kids doing what they had to do to survive.

In the end, Hearst and Pulitzer refused to budge on the price that they charged per bundle however they did agree to buy back the unsold newspapers.


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