THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPER Association is seeking support from its members and other newspaper people for the recurring, and costly, battle over postal rates.
NNA has established the Newspaper Alliance for Fair Postal Rates with the purpose of raising at least $150,000 toward the fight over second-class in-county increases, it was announced last month at the association's 109th convention and trade show at Walt Disney World, which attracted a record 975 attendees.
Through the alliance, NNA says it will challenge Postal Service efforts to establish rates favorable to mass mailers and pass along the system's growing costs to smaller customers, such as community papers.
NNA, which represents 4,200 smaller weeklies and dailies, reported $1.3 million in revenues, $1.2 million in expenditures and a $58,000 surplus last fiscal year, and its $400,000 reserve was left intact.
But costs related to the postal effort could create a deficit this year of $58,000, said NNA vice chairman and chairman elect Jack Fishman of Lakeway Publishers, Morristown, Tenn.
Michael Parta of the New York Mills (Minn.) Herald, the new NNA chairman, urged members to contribute what they could to the new fund, noting the association had "pulled out all the stops" in challenging the Postal Service.
Parta later said in a release, "We don't care if you can afford $30 or $3,000 ? just so long as you call, join the alliance, and we'll all deal with this problem together."
Larger newspapers that don't use the U.S. mail to the extent community papers do nonetheless have a stake in the alliance, he added, "because the Postal Service is literally working overtime for their competition."
The 1,500-member Newspaper Association of America, which represents more than 85% of U.S. daily papers and leads its own substantial efforts against postal rate increases, has contributed $10,000 to NNA's alliance, said NAA senior vice president John Sturm.
Parta maintained NNA is in a good spot to direct the fund-raising because of the "civil, businesslike dialogue" between association and postal officials.
Earlier this year, NNA helped avert a 34% rate increase, saving the publisher of a 5,000-circulation weekly $7,000 a year on average.
No small feat. The group, with the aid of attorneys and economists, had to collect reams of data from member publishers to dispute postal figures. In the end it spent $119,000 ? four times what was budgeted last year.
NNA president and CEO Tonda Rush said the organization will be locked into postal litigation for the foreseeable future. Because of the magnitude of the task, the leadership determined that regular NNA contributions would not suffice.
"We got in the middle of a fight, and the Postal Service was running the fight," she related. "We were faced with a difficult decision: Do we invade our reserves or let it die? The board doesn't want to be in that position. Now if we need the money, it's there."
?( NNA chairman Michael Parta) [Photo]
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