Postal officials visit to hear newspaper industry worries

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 16, 2003

State and national newspaper representatives voicedindustry-related delivery concerns to members of the federal PostalRate Commission Tuesday during a stop in Brookhaven.

Commission Chairman George Omas, Vice Chairman Dana B. “Danny”Covington and member Tony Hammond toured the DAILY LEADER’s mailroom along with officials of the National Newspaper Association,the Mississippi Press Association and several state newspapers.

Newspaper concerns included rising postal rates combined withslower delivery of the papers. That situation can lead tofrustration and inconvenience for the subscriber, newspaperrepresentatives said.

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“The main issue is our customer,” said Patsy Speights, PrentissHeadlight publisher and incoming president of the Mississippi PressAssociation.

Newspaper representatives said postal officials in a number ofsmaller communities are very helpful. Max Heath, who deals withpostal issues for the NNA, said the organization recognizes apostal officials who “bends over backward” to help newspapers.

However, once sent to a larger postal service center, such asJackson or Memphis, redistribution of newspapers sometimes hastaken up to seven days, Speights said. Marcus Bowers, publisher ofthe Rankin County News, said that means subscribers have missedbusiness’ dated advertisements, public meeting notices and legalnotices.

“It seems the larger the facility, the easier it is for thingsto get lost,” Speights said.

Speights discussed the importance of the role the postal serviceplays for newspapers, especially small weeklies.

“The postal service is my circulation department,” she said. “Ifthey can’t do it, it doesn’t happen.”

Speights estimated that weekly newspapers are the largest singlecash customer for the postal service in many communities.

“It’s important for us to work with the postal service to tryand solve some of these problems,” Speights said.

While the Postal Rate Commission does not directly deal withproblems of slow service, staff or compensation issues, any ratechange comes from the panel. It is also involved in the start orstop of services and products and complaints about illegal postalpractices.

Covington, a native of Columbus, Miss., welcomed the input fromnewspaper officials and said commissioners like to hear aboutpostal service concerns. Commissioners recently visited Alabamaduring a review of magazine and other periodical services, andCovington said newspapers are just as important as thosepublications.

“It helps us to get out and see what’s going on in theindustry,” Covington said.