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Blaming the Post Office's Problems on the Media

By Ed O'Keefe

It appears that the news media is partially to blame for the continuing decline of the U.S. Postal Service.

Postal Service
Does the news media deserve blame for the demise of the U.S. Postal Service?

The bad news about its future came yesterday during a Senate subcommittee hearing on the financial future of the Postal Service. There's an interesting nugget in the prepared testimony of Phillip Herr, the Government Accountability Office's director of physical infrastructure. He suggests that an economic recovery may not trigger an increase in mail volume, "due to continuing social and technological trends that have changed the way that people communicate and use the mail." Specifically:

Periodicals (e.g., mailed newspapers and magazines) volume has been declining due to changing reading preferences and these declines are expected to continue. Overall newspaper readership is falling. Also, the Christian Science Monitor and U.S. News and World Report recently announced that they would discontinue their printed editions. Businesses and consumers are becoming more likely to obtain news and information from the Internet, a trend that is particularly evident among young people.

Postal cutbacks may trigger even more problems for the news industry however, since curtailed mail delivery may disrupt the publishing schedules of magazines and other news publications dependent upon USPS to deliver material in a timely fashion.

Herr also suggested that first-class mail volume is unlikely to increase since households, business and other organizations have cut back considerably on printed mail in favor of electronic alternatives. Standard mail volume may also continue to decline as companies turn to Web-based search engine advertising.

But the Postal Service and other folks went there: they blamed the media and the rise of twenty-something bloggers like yours truly, for possibly causing the end of six-day delivery.

Apologies in advance.

UPDATE 4:32 p.m. ET: The Eye's colleague Joe Davidson reports a cut in six-day delivery looks less likely, thanks to the actions of some lawmakers. But still feel free to blame the media, if you must.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 29, 2009; 3:38 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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Ed I hope you don't get any hard copy bills in the mail. They may suddenly go missing.

Posted by: Jeff08 | January 29, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

After receiving several emails requesting that I send a greeting card to a "Recovering Soldier" at Walter Reed Army Hospital on Georgia Avenue, NW, I sent one and it was returned twice.

Does anyone know why? Was it actually delivered or did the hospital refuse it.

Posted by: Joan850 | January 29, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

After receiving several emails requesting that I send a greeting card to a "Recovering Soldier" at Walter Reed Army Hospital on Georgia Avenue, NW, I sent one and it was returned twice.

Does anyone know why? Was it actually delivered or did the hospital refuse it.

Posted by: Joan850 | January 29, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

This is typical of postal management. Blame EVERYone, but yourself for the failures. Had they read PC World, MacWorld and the tech articles at the Post all these years, they "would have seen it coming" and prepared for the eventual takeover of communications by cell phones and the internet. Alas, three fingered sloths like PMG Potter have NO clue as to technology or its advances in recent years. The future us now, but the Postal Service never saw it coming.

Posted by: poetthom1 | January 29, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

They need to go to Monday, Wednesday and Friday delivery. They will save money and gas. I will save time by checking only three days a week.

Posted by: siva1 | January 29, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

The average person can help bring the postal service back into the black by sending back the postage-paid reply envelopes that often arrive with junk mail. This is a high-margin line of business for the USPS. Increasing it will help transfer much needed revenue from the likes of credit card companies to the post office.

Posted by: pondcove | January 29, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I know why your letter was not delivered but I'm not telling!

Posted by: carh8tr | January 29, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The post office did quite well for many, many years. Then the Bush administration and a Republican controlled Congress came and their motto was "bust the unions" at any cost and this is the cost. They decimated the post office in order to bust their strong union. They laid off employees and hired temps in their place. They decimated their benefits by refusing to list the Mail Handlers insurance plan on the OPM list of health insurers. They promoted many unqualified people to managerial positions, thus taking away from union contributions. This isn't the only agency the Bush admin and Republican Congress did this to. What the American people are seeing now is the result of a horrible eight years of George Bush and his Republican followers.

Posted by: pkbishop | January 29, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Recovering Soldier is a hoax, urban legand whatever you want to call it.. Due to Homeland Security or some such thing is what I was told they can't do that. You have to send it to the Red Cross... That has been debunked for 3 years at least.

Posted by: sweetlucy47 | January 29, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Personalize much? I don't see any specific indictment of either "The Media" or twentysomething bloggers. To cease printing (therefore delivering) those two mass publications will have estimable results on the company which had been primarily delivering them. Data, not blame. I'm a Labor Representative working for the USPS, decidedly not a management shill, and even I have to call shenanigans. Try harder.

Posted by: BZoetic | January 30, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Save the postal funds and remove ALL vehicles from their inventory and put them back on horses!

I am sick and tired of hearing that the postal service is bad and hurting. When they hire neandrathal goons to deliver the mail, you get what you pay for.

As one other poster mentioned, this all actually started years ago -- before the internet, when they converted the PO to be a profit-business and put goons in charge to operate it. THERE is your problem Congress!

Posted by: darmar40 | January 30, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Some of the Post Office already works 5 days a week. I tried to reach security for the Post Office on a Saturday. I was given a business card with a telephone number on it and told by the Postal Official at the window to call the "number on that card" which I did. There is no security available on Saturday and Sunday, according to the recording on the other end of the line at this number. I went to the Post Office to try to get my GPO mail and the LAZZZY woman behing the desk could not get out of her chair to help. I asked about security this day too, and was told there is no Saturday security, in the OLD CHELSEA POST OFFICE, NYC. The first words out of any Postal Employee behind the Counter is "WHAT DID YOU DO WRONG?" Where do they come from, these employees of a Federal USA Government. These Postal employees seem to owe not alligence to the American Government or to the raggady flag flown outside of the building.

Posted by: motherschild | January 30, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

As a publisher of a small news letter, because of the continued rise in postal costs, I am being forced to turn to the internet. As anyone who took economics 101 knows, as the price rises, the number of customers falls as they are priced out of the market. The first price rise was to modernize the postal service. I have yet to see that modernization. Every postal increase has been followed by a cut back in services. I bet this last cut in services will be accopanied by an increase in postage charges. Old Ben Franklin must be turning over in his grave.

Posted by: keyquest13 | January 31, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

do most of you know that the postoffice generates its owne money to stay running by selling stamps and ect.and also every year gives money to the goverment. the postoffice gets no grants,no cut of their budget each year.(we give back)Many people out their think they know the postoffice but they don't. You are the ones who need to read and get your information correct.some mailcarriers are dam good carriers,and do care about the job they do.

Posted by: MHUTTER | February 1, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

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