Catholic editors wary of Postal Service changes

WASHINGTON -- Catholic press officials are warning editors that the recently announced 4 percent increase in postal rates could be just the tip of the iceberg as the U.S. Postal Service deals with a $6 billion budget shortfall for 2009.

“Keep your eyes wide open on this one: It’s only 4 percent, so you may say it’s ‘just the cost of doing business,’“ said a Feb. 10 e-mail to Catholic Press Association members from the CPA Postal Committee.

“But it will hardly dent that $6 billion deficit. The Postal Service intends to look harder and dig deeper,” the committee added. “It proposes cutting Saturday delivery, clearly a problem for those of us who mail on Thursday or Friday. Also perhaps at risk: the 5 percent nonprofit discount, and perhaps even the entire periodicals classification itself.”

The Postal Service announced new prices for mailing services Feb. 10; they are to take effect May 11.

The cost of a first-class stamp will go from 42 cents to 44 cents, with similar increases scheduled for standard mail, periodicals, package services and special services.

Timothy M. Walter, CPA executive director, said editors of Catholic newspapers and magazines “are going to be in budget planning, and we want them to be prepared for these increases.”

He said staff members of Catholic publications should stay in close touch with their local post office representatives.

“Most papers succeed when they have very good relationships with the local postal reps,” Walter added. “And it’s very, very important for them to manage their lists properly.”

Bob Zyskowski, CPA president and associate publisher/general manager of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said the frequent increases by the Postal Service are “forcing members of the Catholic press to look elsewhere for delivery methods.”

“I think they (at the Postal Service) are shooting themselves in the foot,” he told Catholic News Service Feb. 12. “A number of publications are looking at the possibility of not using the Postal Service, of finding other ways to get the publication into people’s hands.”

Zyskowski said the Catholic press might need to explore the financing model of National Public Radio, with “more sponsorship.”

“But the idea that we (as a church) can stop communicating is not an option,” he said. “We have to find responsible ways to do it.”

Both Walter and Zyskowski said delivery and postal concerns will be among the workshop topics at the Catholic Media Convention scheduled for May 27-29 in Anaheim, Calif.

“With the financial problems that the post office is in, no one knows what the impact will be down the road,” Walter said. “That’s why it’s so important for (editors) to make sure they are doing everything they can to keep their costs down.”

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