Issues concerning distribution, production and all the other aspects of putting out a newspaper that aren't handled in the newsroom don't really fall under my purview as readers' representative -- but it's undeniable that they make up a very large chunk of my traffic (as is the case with all me peers at other publications).
There's one ongoing concern that I've heard has become more prevalent in recent years, especially since the advent of the "extreme couponing" phenomenon: coupon theft from single copies in racks and machines.
I often hear from single-copy purchasers who discover the Sunday Star they've gotten is missing its inserts. They're understandably miffed, because advertising is one of the prime reasons many people buy a paper.
Does the mistake originate with The Star? Sometimes, certainly so. The Star's production facility is quite seriously probably the most technologically advanced one of its kind in the world, having just opened in 2006. The inserting machines have sensors that kick out papers that haven't been put together correctly, so those should never even leave the building. It's not foolproof, but it's much better than an all-manual process.
But there is still a certain amount of trust inherent in single-copy sales. Just this weekend, I saw someone pull coupons from a Sunday paper and shove them inside another copy she then took to the counter to purchase. So that means whoever got the next one on the stack didn't get everything he paid for.
Is there a good solution, other than wishing everyone would keep it honest? I hate to say it, but it's always best to leaf through a copy before plunking down your change. No, the onus shouldn't be on you -- but I'm not sure I see a clear alternative, other than keeping papers behind retail counters and radically redesigning vending machines so they block access to all but one copy.