Photo Essays | Society | South Asia

An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

“In Delhi alone, more than 3 million newspapers are distributed to homes every morning within hours of their printing.”

Vishal Arora
By Vishal Arora and the Delhi Photo Expedition for
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Trucks carrying tens of thousands of newspapers, coming straight from printing press locations, arrive at distribution hubs at about 4 a.m. each morning.

Credit: Rajeev Frederick
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Staff of distribution agencies make bundles of newspapers for vendors and distribution men, popularly referred to as “newspaper wallahs” in India.

Credit: Vishal Arora
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Some bundles are transported to local vendors, miles away from the hub, on bicycle trailers.

Credit: Nikita Lamba
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Some newspaper wallahs load their private scooters with bundles after bundles of newspapers, to save money.

Credit: Vishal Arora
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Some readers are so impatient to read news early in the morning that they walk to a distribution hub to buy a newspaper, much before their neighbors will get their newspapers.

Credit: Madhur Malik
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Most newspaper wallahs ride bicycles to distribute dailies to homes several miles away.

Credit: Graham Thaovei Duomai
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Some newspaper wallahs, who don’t even own a bicycle, carry newspapers on their heads, and sell them to commuters on the roads.

Credit: Ankush Vats
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

For most newspaper wallahs, this is a part-time job, and they go to work elsewhere after delivering newspapers.

Credit: Rajeev Frederick
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Each newspaper wallah distributes about 200 newspapers, which means 200 doorsteps.

Credit: Madhur Malik
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Some of the newspaper wallahs have been distributing or selling newspapers for decades.

Credit: Saraswati Sundas
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

Some distribute newspapers to pay their school fees.

Credit: Lozaan Khumbah
An Indian Newspaper’s Journey

The newspaper industry in India is worth millions of dollars but the average per capita earning of a newspaper wallah is estimated to be just about $100 a month.

Credit: Philip Langel

Hardly a day goes by without a newspaper landing at our doorsteps before we even wake up. Journalists, editors, and printing press staff deserve credit for giving us our daily dose of news, but not all of the credit. Their job ends as newspapers are printed. That’s when distribution begins, thanks to a different set of people. In the Indian capital of Delhi alone, more than 3 million newspapers are distributed to homes every morning within hours of their printing.

The consistency and the punctuality of Delhi’s roughly 20,000 delivery people are often compared to the functioning of Six Sigma companies. Yet they remain underpaid and are part of the “unorganized sector.”

To witness and document their contribution to the dissemination of news, a group of photo enthusiasts at the Delhi Photo Expedition got up before dawn one day – something that thousands of deliverymen do every morning – and headed to a newspaper distribution hub in the ITO area of New Delhi.