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Critics: Postal Service Plans Imperil Community Newspapers
The cost of the Exponent is going up, except for subscribers who read the paper online.
“We have no choice but to increase the cost of our mailed subscriptions. With a large postage increase coming, as well as the rising costs of paper, plates and ink, we have to raise subscription rates,” said publisher Matt Schepeler. “We haven’t raised the cost of the paper in several years, but people who switch to reading online can still realize savings,” he said.
Beginning with the August 3 edition, over-the-counter paper sales will be $2 per copy. Annual subscriptions for mailed copies will go to $70 per year. Readers who prefer the mailed copy of the paper can also subscribe for 6 months at a time for $45. However, people can still access an online edition for $50 a year.
“We really are doing nothing more than covering our production costs,” said Schepeler.
A story in the Associate Press, and republished in Editor & Publisher, states that the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to raise mailing rates “could present one more damaging blow to community newspapers already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and advertising declines.”
Rates on periodicals will increase by more than 8% as of Aug. 29.
The impact of the periodical rate increase is expected to be felt most by small daily and weekly newspapers like The Exponent, which depends on the postal service for much of its delivery.
Through the years, the USPS has been a reliable partner for the Exponent, Schepeler said, but quality of delivery has declined dramatically, especially since COVID hit, while the price continues to climb.
For some newspapers, this price hike could be the tipping point for survivability, noted the AP story.
The News Media Alliance, in comments opposing the rate increases, told the independent Postal Regulatory Commission that the plans “ultimately harm the public interest while doing little to improve the Postal Service’s financial condition.”
The newspaper industry has struggled greatly over the past two decades. More than 2,100 newspapers in the United States have closed in the past 15 years, the majority of them weeklies that serve local communities, according to research by the University of North Carolina.
“Our readership is actually up,” said Schepeler, adding that cutting quality is not an option.
Subscribing online is easy. Click on “Subscribe/Renew”. Take a minute and watch the video above to learn how easy it is.