Beyond left and right — how the US Postal Service is bringing political foes together

The mailing costs of small US magazines like Mother Jones, The Nation and National Review will rise sharply after July 15. The United States Postal Service is set to adopt a new rate formula based on proposals by Time Warner — the publishers of mass circulation magazines like People, Fortune and Sports Illustrated. Small magazine publishers have started a campaign to have the decision changed. It’s a campaign that spans ideological divides.

This week the Los Angeles Times carried an op-ed piece jointly written by Teresa Stack of left The Nation, a left leaning magazine, and Jack Fowler of the National Review, one of America’s best known conservative publications. In the National Review’s Corner, Fowler writes "Postal-rate hikes make strange bedfellows: NR has joined an alliance of opinion magazines, including The American Spectator, The Nation, and Mother Jones, to battle these new rates."

According to Free Press (("a national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debate"~Free Press)) the rate increases will affect online content too — something that may affect Australian bloggers and not just American print subscribers:

Much of the material on the web sites people visit that covers public affairs is generated by these print publications. Much of the material bloggers address originates in these print publications.

If these publications are forced to slash their editorial budgets — or even go out of business –to pay the massive postal rate increases brought on by the Time Warner plan, it will shrink the range and quality of material available on the Internet.

There is still no clear business model to support quality journalism online, and these print publications provide the resources to pay for the journalists and writers whose material is available in cyberspace. If the print publications do not exist, these stories do not get written. As our friends at National Review have noted, there would be no National Review Online "without the print-magazine mothership."

The postal service is responsible for covering its own costs and has been under increasing pressure from private carriers and new communications technology like fax machines and the internet. The new rate formula has been recommended by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

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