A paperboy for the Toronto Star in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, 1940.

A paperboy is the general name for a person employed by a newspaper, They are often used around the office to run low end errands. They make copies and distribute them. Paperboys traditionally were and are still often portrayed on television and movies as preteen boys, often on a bicycle. Today, with the latest child labor laws most paper boys are aged 13 or over.



Newsboy, Iowa City, 1940, Arthur Rothstein.

The position of paperboy occupies a prominent place in many countries including the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and Japan. This is because it has long been the first paying job available to young teenagers, often male.

Despite that, the number of paperboys has declined greatly. This is due partly to the disappearance of afternoon newspapers, whose delivery times worked better for school-aged children than did those of morning papers which were typically delivered before 6 a.m. The numbers have also been affected by changing demographics, the availability of news and newspapers on the internet, employment laws and concern about the safety of un-escorted children, all of which have led many newspapers to switch to delivery by adults. Today, they are mainly used by weekly community newspapers and free shopper papers, which still tend to be delivered in the afternoons. Alternatively, sometimes paperboys are only employed once a week to deliver the paper on Sunday.[1]

Newspaper industry lore suggests that the first paperboy, hired in 1833, was 10-year-old Barney Flaherty who answered an advertisement in the New York Sun, which read "To the Unemployed a number of steady men can find employment by vending this paper."


Paper boy is a job pertaining to one who distributes newspapers or a newspaper deliverer.


Paper distribution is a fairly simple job. It consists of mapping out one's territory and using it to advantage in distributing paper. Knowledge of bicycle maintenance (if used) and basic customer service skills are developed. During the Holiday season in western countries, a paperboy can make an extra bonus - similar to a postman or a milkman. This is typically done by writing a Christmas card to each of the customers on the round and, in many cases, the customers will respond by leaving a "Christmas Box" or a "tip" (cash) as a gift. Customers may of course choose to leave tips and gifts out at any time of the year.


It is a low-standing job. As most papers are delivered early in the morning it requires the delivery person to get up early, which can also mean braving cold, dark, and inhospitable conditions. Some delivery routes have also moved away from simple 'walking routes' to larger 'driving routes', which requires both a car and a license. 'Driving routes' have become less profitable with the rising price of fuel, since fuel is not paid for by most newspapers/newsagents.

For paperboys using a bike, and the typical paper-round bag - in the UK a luminous, waterproof coloured bag with a single strap - the papers (chiefly at the weekend) are collectively very heavy and/or thick, meaning that often on a Saturday or a Sunday the round has to be split and completed in two halves. The worst "culprits" in the UK are the Daily Telegraph on a Saturday and the Sunday Telegraph; The Sunday Times and The Observer (which is small but thick).

The early depictions of paperboys on bikes throwing papers into gardens is no longer prevalent as most houses now have a letterbox on the front door and gardens are not easily accessible from the streets.

In fiction

For motion pictures with the word in the title, see the IMDb; for others in which they feature, see [1]

Arnold Bennett's 1911 novel The Card features a newspaper take-over. Part of the success of the stratagem depends on the proprietor temporarily detaining all his rival's paperboys, which he does by promising them food and locking them in. The paperboys are depicted as a rumbustious and tight-knit group.

Tony Macaulay's memoir 'Paperboy' (2010) tells the experiences of a paperboy in West Belfast in the 1970s.

Bob Thurber's 'Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel' (2011) tells the experiences of a 14-year-old paperboy and his emotionally troubled sister during the summer of 1969.

Newsies, a 1992 musical film, directed by Kenny Ortega, is about the Newsboys Strike of 1899.

Better Off Dead 1985 movie features a paperboy on a bicycle that throws a newspaper through a closed window breaking the window glass. There are several paperboys in this movie.

In the 2001 Disney film, Max Keeble's Big Move, the film's protagonist is a local paperboy.

See also


Audio clips

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Paperboy II — Paperboy 2 is a sequel to the video game Paperboy . It was released for a large number of systems, including the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, DOS, Game Boy, Game Gear, Sega Genesis, NES, SNES, and ZX Spectrum. The game was much like the original …   Wikipedia

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  • Paperboy — est un jeu vidéo développé et édité par Atari Games sur borne d arcade en 1984. Sommaire 1 Présentation 2 Portages 3 À noter 4 Sources …   Wikipédia en Français

  • paperboy — pa per*boy , paper boy pa per boy (p[=a] p[ e]r*boi ), n. A boy who sells or delivers newspapers. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • paperboy — [pā′pər boi΄] n. a boy who sells or delivers newspapers …   English World dictionary

  • paperboy — [[t]pe͟ɪpə(r)bɔɪ[/t]] paperboys also paper boy N COUNT A paperboy is a boy who delivers newspapers to people s homes …   English dictionary

  • paperboy — noun Date: 1876 a boy who delivers newspapers ; newsboy …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • paperboy — /pay peuhr boy /, n. a youth or man who sells newspapers on the street or delivers them to homes; newsboy. [1875 80; PAPER + BOY] * * * …   Universalium

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