Left & Right Versus Big & Bland
When the publisher of National Review teams up with the president of The Nation (the magazine, that is) to write an op-ed, it’s worth noting. In today’s Los Angeles Times, Jack Fowler of NR and Teresa Stack of TN take a joint stand against the change in postal rates for magazines and other periodicals that will come into effect on July 15…
Magazine publishers are facing a radical postage rate restructuring that favors those with large circulations and transfers costs to small- and mid-circulation publications.
Past increases to periodical postage were applied fairly equally across all publications. But this time, things are drastically different — and potentially damaging to the diversity of voices that our founders strove to foster when they created the national postal system.
Our respective magazines — the Nation and the National Review — sit on opposite ends of the political spectrum and disagree on nearly every issue. But we concur on this: These proposed postal rate hikes are deeply unfair.
For this latest round of rate hikes, the U.S. Postal Service proposed a 12% increase that would have affected magazines more or less equitably. Then, in an unprecedented move, that plan was rejected by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the body responsible for setting rates. Instead, it approved a complicated pricing system based on a proposal by Time Warner Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the country. Rather than base rates on total weight and total number of pieces mailed, the new, complex formula is full of incentives that take into account packaging, shape, distance traveled and more….
How will small magazines that operate on the economic margins — yet have an outsized effect on public discourse — accommodate $500,000 (in the case of the Nation and the National Review) in additional postage expense? Will we be forced to cut back on reporting, raise our prices, reduce our staffs or our number of pages to stay afloat? For some titles, the change may prove fatal. It certainly will make it more difficult to start a new magazine, and publishing will be less competitive as a result.
On the other hand, it’s more reflective of the postage changes across the board. All postage rates used to be based solely on weight. A customer who mailed out 100,000 brick shaped boxes first class at 4 ounces a piece paid no more in postage than a customer that mailed out 100,000 envelopes at 4 ounces a piece, despite the fact that it would more than likely take more than one truck to move the bulk. And that’s been going on for many years.
It;s nice to see somebody stand up to this arrogant display of naked corporate power by Time Warner.