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Sweetheart deal from USPS would hurt us all



A government sanctioned monopoly is conspiring to undermine the free market and democracy itself.

No, I’m not wearing a tinfoil hat. Unfortunately, this impossible sounding scenario could be approved tomorrow (Thursday) by the Postal Regulatory Commission. If it is, you may not be reading any newspaper, including this one, in a couple of years.

The United States Postal Service is desperately seeking new revenue. In order to get it, it’s proposing to strike a sweetheart deal with the largest single junk mail dealer in the country, Valassis. USPS wants to give that private company an exclusive 22- to 36-percent discount on what it miscalculates will be “new” advertising mail pieces.

The effect would be to cut out the only remaining revenue pillar holding up the daily newspaper business, mid-week preprinted insert advertising.

It’s a misguided notion at best and would likely backfire: Newspapers would seek alternative delivery systems that would push further into the USPS’s prime business; and circulars delivered inside newspapers now would go with Valassis, weakening newspapers without adding delivery volume for USPS.

Some folks might be tempted to think none of this matters because news is all gathered by Internet news workers now. That is far from the truth. Almost all of the great discussion you read on the Internet today stems from original reporting done by newspapers.

An analysis of the proposal by the postal commission’s independent public representative opined: “The effectiveness of our democracy depends on an informed electorate, which depends on how much, and how effectively the news gets reported. That still depends to a very large extent on the large but shrinking cadre of reporters that only newspapers are willing to employ …”

Employing reporters is made possible by advertising revenue, folks. That means, in essence, that a government sanctioned monopoly (USPS) is conspiring to undermine the free market and democracy itself.

To stop this madness, call your U.S. senator right now:

• Patty Murray - (D - WA)

448 Russell Senate Office Building,

Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-2621

• Maria Cantwell - (D - WA)

311 Hart Senate Office Building,

Washington DC 20510

(202) 224-3441.

Scott Hunter

editor and publisher

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