The United States Postal Service this week said it is moving forward with its proposal to change the first-class delivery times from one to three days, up to a two- or three-day delivery across most of the U.S. It's also proposed to shutter more than half of the 461 facilities that process first-class mail.
Depending on how the changes are implemented, newspaper and magazine publishers stand to be among the most negatively impacted - particularly smaller publications and those that produce weeklies.
One such newspaper, the Oologah (Okla.) Lake-Leader, expressed its concern to Channel 6 News in Tulsa yesterday about the way changes will affect its 10,000 subscribers.
The Lake-Ledger is delivered to Oologah via the local post office, but subscribers in outlying areas have their papers delivered from a Tulsa post office that faces possible closure at the end of December. If that happens, those subscribers' copies would have to be delivered from Oklahoma City, meaning the newspaper would have to first get papers to the Oklahoma City post office before they could be mailed to subscribers, potentially adding significantly to delivery time.
"If it has to go to Oklahoma City and back, I'm afraid they aren't going to get Thursday's paper until the next Monday or Tuesday," Faith Wylie, co-publisher of the paper told Channel 6 News in Tulsa.
Hiring delivery people is not a practical option for the paper for a variety of reasons, Wylie said, and she worries about the impact of longer delivery times on subscriber and advertiser numbers.
"If you lose 10 percent of your readers and 10 percent of your revenue, that's a serious hit in this economy."
The USPS is looking to reduce operating costs by some $20 billion by 2015, according to David Williams, vice president of Network Operations for the USPS.
"The proposed changes to service standards will allow for significant consolidation of the postal network in terms of facilities, processing equipment, vehicles and employee workforce and will generate projected net annual savings of approximately $2.1 billion," he said in a statement.
The USPS ended its 2011 fiscal year on Sept. 30 with a loss of more than $5 billion.
Williams said the standards would not change until at least April 2012.