Publishers who still mail print editions to subscribers are facing challenges on at least a couple of fronts.
For one, new statistics released by the U.S Postal Service show that 86.1% of periodicals were delivered on-time against the USPS service standard in Q4, a decrease of 2.8% from the prior quarter.
In contrast, 91.4% of first class mail was delivered on-time, a 1.2% decrease, and marketing mail held steady with a 95.2% on-time delivery rate.
This may or may not have any real impact given recent postal policy changes, which U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is speaking out against. She says the changes are hurting local and rural newspapers.
In July, Klobuchar pointed out that the USPS eliminated the use of sack containers for newspapers and other periodicals and is now only accepting those publications delivered in bulkier containers that are more labor intensive and expensive to organize and handle.
“Local newspapers in Minnesota have found this new policy to be overly burdensome, especially those serving rural communities,” Klobuchar wrote in a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy earlier this month. “Rural newspapers have informed me that this new rule has increased the number of containers needed to deliver the same number of newspapers, and some now require additional trucks to deliver their newspapers to local post offices for distribution.”
As if it needed to be said, Klobuchar noted, “Minnesotans depend on local newspapers not only to find out the weather forecast or who won the big high school sports game, but also to keep them well-informed about local issues and hold local government officials accountable.”
It was not clear at deadline if any changes to this policy were in the offing. But that, combined with recent postal rate hikes, could accelerate decisions by publishers to convert to digital, either partially or in full.