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In the rural areas of the United States where Internet and cellular phone signals are almost non-existent, the people get their news through printed newspapers. There has been a large contingency of community newspapers that have grown up around the need to service this large rural population. But as time goes by, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is taking steps to slow delivery to rural populations and that is causing problems for the community newspaper publishers that rely on the postal service to deliver the news.
The Problems Are Significant
According to Post and Parcel.Info, the USPS closed 141 of its mail processing centers between 2012 and 2013 saving roughly $850 million per year in operating costs. Many of those processing centers serviced rural areas, so community newspapers are now seeing delays of several days between when the papers are shipped and when they arrive in their client's mailboxes.
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In 2015, the USPS is planning on closing 82 more processing facilities to try and save another $750 million per year in operating costs. If these closures take effect, rural mail delivery will continue to suffer and community newspapers fear they will see an influx of subscription cancelations.
The USPS Is In A Dire Economic Situation
According to EqualVoiceForFamilies.org, the USPS lost nearly $16 billion in 2012 due to inefficient operating practices. The USPS continues to hemorrhage money annually to the point where drastic changes are said to be on the way. If the changes being planned are drastic, then community newspapers could face a complete collapse.
Why Is Congress Being Petitioned To Make Changes?
For decades, Congress has done nothing to address the changes in the mail delivery industry that directly affect the USPS. Even when email was eating away at USPS profits, Congress made no moves to alter the way the USPS did business or to change the way that the USPS maintains its service.
Recently, the National Newspaper Association spoke before Congress to ask that Congress take a more active role in reforming the USPS in finding ways to avoid further loss of rural delivery service. Business experts fear that the USPS in general is on the verge of collapse and the loss of the USPS to the American business world could be catastrophic.
For decades, Congress did nothing to change the way that the USPS spent money and delivered service. Now that the age of efficient service at low costs has come, the USPS is ill-equipped to remain in business. As the USPS continues to lose billions of dollars each year, community newspapers and their rural clients are being asked to wait longer and longer for mail delivery to rural areas. If Congress does not act soon, community newspapers fear that delivering local news to rural clients will no longer be financially feasible and that everyone will suffer in the long run.