Prominent community newspaper publishers comment to House Subcommittee about impact on newspaper readers from failures in mail delivery

Tonda Rush

Oct 15, 2021

Screenshots from the Oct. 15 hearing (Lynne Lance, Pub Aux)
Screenshots from the Oct. 15 hearing (Lynne Lance, Pub Aux)


Prominent community newspaper publishers comment to House Subcommittee about impact on newspaper readers from failures in mail delivery

Chicago publisher Dorothy R. Leavell and central Illinois publisher John Galer advised the House Subcommittee on Government Operations today that delayed mail delivery is costing newspapers time, money and subscribers. Subscribers are missing out on timely news, shopping opportunities, public notices and critical community activities.

Leavell, publisher and editor of the Chicago Crusader, and Galer, publisher of the Hillsboro (Illinois) Journal-News, and nine other Illinois newspapers provided comments to the subcommittee chaired by Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Virginia, for a hearing, “Waiting on the Mail: Postal Service Standard Drops in Chicago and the Surrounding Area” on October 15.

The committee has asked Chicago Postmaster Eddie Morgan Jr. and others to explain why mail delays in the area have been occurring over recent months.

“Timeliness is critical and reliable mail delivery is an essential component of a successful newspaper like ours.” Leavell said. “Mail delivery, however, is a perpetual challenge for a newspaper like ours. It has never been as reliable as we need it to be. During the pandemic, it has been worse than ever.”

Galer, whose mail destined for addresses outside his immediate delivery area is handled by USPS facilities in St. Louis, said, “Newspaper delivery outside the delivery offices where our mail is entered has been a problem for many years. In the past 18 months, it has reached a crisis point and our publishers are losing subscribers by the droves.”

Both witnesses explained how newspapers regularly enter their mail according to the mail preparation rules of USPS and hope their readers receive their copies within a reasonable delivery period. But copies delayed a week and sometimes several weeks are not uncommon for copies that travel through the USPS mail delivery network. Leavell said her office was required recently to send replacement copies to one reader who did not receive his newspapers at all for several summer months.

The publishers said the failures in the delivery network were causing subscribers to cancel their subscriptions and miss out on the news they needed because it was arriving too late to be useful.
Galer cautioned the members of Congress not to rely upon the Postal Service’s periodic Service Performance reports to show how well newspapers in the mail are doing. Although the most recent report for Periodicals outside the county of mailing showed on-time delivery under 60%, the newspaper experience may be even worse.

“The data that are aggregated for these reports come in large part from the scanning mail pieces as they are sorted by machines in processing plants. Newspapers are sorted by hand. These individual pieces are not scanned. Therefore, when you see a Periodicals service report, please know that newspaper data is not reflected in what you see,” Galer said. Galer is vice chair of the National Newspaper Association and an active member of its government relations and postal committees.

NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of the Wesner Publications, Cordell, Okalhoma, said NNA valued the opportunity to explain the plight of community newspapers to the Congressional committee that oversees USPS.

“We are working diligently with USPS to figure out what we can do and what the Postal Service can do to improve this experience,” Wesner said. “But our long experience tells us that there are problems in the processing and transportation network that are not going to be solved quickly and may not be solved at all without Congressional action. We are waiting for the 117th Congress to take up the Postal Service Reform Act of 2021 and to provide other oversight and reform measures that will help all of the users of the mail, including our newspapers,” he said.

The statements of Leavell and Galer are available below.



The subcommittee’s hearing is livestreamed on You Tube here: