It appears that the news media is partially to blame for the continuing decline of the U.S. Postal Service.
The bad news about its future came yesterday during a Senate subcommittee hearing on the financial future of the Postal Service. There’s an interesting nugget in the prepared testimony of Phillip Herr, the Government Accountability Office’s director of physical infrastructure. He suggests that an economic recovery may not trigger an increase in mail volume, “due to continuing social and technological trends that have changed the way that people communicate and use the mail.” Specifically:
Periodicals (e.g., mailed newspapers and magazines) volume has been declining due to changing reading preferences and these declines are expected to continue. Overall newspaper readership is falling. Also, the Christian Science Monitor and U.S. News and World Report recently announced that they would discontinue their printed editions. Businesses and consumers are becoming more likely to obtain news and information from the Internet, a trend that is particularly evident among young people.
Postal cutbacks may trigger even more problems for the news industry however, since curtailed mail delivery may disrupt the publishing schedules of magazines and other news publications dependent upon USPS to deliver material in a timely fashion.
Herr also suggested that first-class mail volume is unlikely to increase since households, business and other organizations have cut back considerably on printed mail in favor of electronic alternatives. Standard mail volume may also continue to decline as companies turn to Web-based search engine advertising.
But the Postal Service and other folks went there: they blamed the media and the rise of twenty-something bloggers like yours truly, for possibly causing the end of six-day delivery.
Apologies in advance.