Postage Still at Risk

Jack Potter, the Postmaster General, is continuing to fight for a postage increase in excess of the cost of living.

The Postal Service lost its first round early this month when the Postal Regulatory Commission decided to reject the rate increase.

Postal Service will be filing a petition in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seeking a review of the PRC decision.

Meanwhile Potter is retiring after many years with the Postal Service. His replacement has already been announced.

I guess the decision to appeal in court will take on a life of its own.

My very small business has been impacted by rising expenses this year. Healthcare insurance costs for my employees rose more than 10% just last month. The increase was one I knew about back in the spring. Payroll taxes have increased – I’m not sure of the percentage.

Looking at a possible increase in postage cost is depressing.

Miracles Multiply

Watching Nightline on late night TV, I celebrate the miracle of the Chilean miners.

I admit I have avoided many of the stories because I try to protect myself from great tragedies and sadness.

But tonight I watched as the first of the miners appeared from the depths of hell. The first of the 33 miners to emerge from the collapsed mine. Florencio Avalos, father of two, came out of the San Jose mine smiling, looking well.

Shortly after midnight the second man emerged in the strange looking capsule.

I cried when the first man was saved. Now it’s a story I want to follow. Now the happy ending seems possible.

Flipping to CNN, I rejoice in miracles.

The first rescue took 16 minutes for the last stage. But for 69 days, the men were buried, with little hope. Yet they hoped.

Isn’t live TV grand. Mario Sepulveda Espinace, #2 guy, came out of the pit with some sort of souvenir gift for the men who were part of the rescue effort.

Life is good. Miracles happen. Sometimes the world moves in the right direction.

Winning Rocks

The Milton Times staff just walked away with its second award in two years from the National Newspaper Association.

The award was announced last summer but presented at the NNA’s annual convention in Omaha last week. The convention celebrated the success of community newspapers in a tough economy.

The cartoon that won the Milton Times a third place award depicted Ledger reporter Fred Hanson standing in a crowd of Milton residents just before he was pulled off regular coverage of Milton news for the local daily paper.

Fred was saying “If only a few more of you bought the Ledger, I’d still be covering Milton.” Nearby someone had a thought bubble saying, “I read it online.”

The cartoon is not actually funny. The reality is daily newspapers like the Ledger have been giving their product away free for the past decade and they’ve watched their print readership decline in those years.

The Milton Times, like those big dailies, has a free web site. Obviously, if you found this blog, you can read stories from Milton online.  But after trying the model the bigger papers have been using (for two years back in 2000-2002), we have limited what goes online.

Just last week the Boston Globe announced it would be trying a paid web site while keeping the free site it’s been promoting at Boston.com. All of the big papers have figured out they need to do something differently.

It the past few months those big papers have been going after the small local retailers, trying to eat away at the losses they have been absorbing.

Those small local retailers are the source of life for a small weekly paper like the Milton Times. We have served the Milton market for the past 15 years. There are features we have tried and then moved away from in the brief history of the paper.

Our first responsibility is to create a viable newspaper. This means capturing stories about Milton and its people. It also means we pay attention to the bottom line. Our staff deserve more pay than they receive, but they are willing to accept the salaries that work in this market. We would love to print more photos and add more stories – the limiting factor is a financial one. Advertising pays the real cost of the paper. Subscriptions pay for the postage, plus the cost of subscription upkeep.

It’s fun to win awards. It’s great to be acknowledged by our peers.

Cartooning is fun, too.  Maybe there will be more cartoons in the Milton Times in the coming year.

Postage Increase Held Off

Well, one of the universal truths of America is that costs increase.

(I’m not thinking that is part of the American dream.)

Anyway, the powers that be in the Postal Service decided to ignore a law passed in 2006 that provided postal increase should be limited to the cost of living.

But the Postal Regulatory Commission voted recently to put the increase on hold. The PRC is not the last word. Its decision could be appealed but so far the postmaster general has indicated he is looking in other ways to deal with the budget problem. The post office is thinking about reducing delivery service from six to five days a week.

Who in their right mind thinks reducing service by 17 percent will increase the bottom line? Are they thinking they will lay off 17 percent of the staff? I don’t think so.

Meanwhile the cost of a first class stamp is 44 cents. Email is free.

I think they have a marketing problem.