America’s founders understood the First Amendment would be worth little without a postal system that encouraged broad public participation in America’s “marketplace of ideas.” Thomas Jefferson called for a postal service that allowed ideas to “penetrate the whole mass of the people.” Along with James Madison, he paved the way for a system that gave low-cost mailing incentives to small publications of information and ideas.
The postal policies that resulted have helped spur a vibrant political culture in the United States by easing the entry of diverse political viewpoints into a national discourse often dominated by the largest media organizations.
Now, this is all about to change, putting the future of The Nation, along with many other publications, at risk.
Postal regulators have decided to extend special favors to mega-publishers, like Time Warner and Hearst, while unduly burdening smaller and independent magazines with much higher postal rates–The Nation is being saddled with an unexpected increase of $500,000 in annual costs.
The new rates, which go into effect on July 15, were developed with no public involvement or congressional oversight, and the increased costs could damage hundreds, even thousands, of smaller publications, forcing many to the brink of bankruptcy. This includes virtually every political journal in the nation. (Shockingly, the new plan was drafted by Time Warner, the largest magazine publisher in the nation. All evidence available, as Robert McChesney explains in an editorial on CommonDreams, suggests the bureaucrats responsible have never considered the implications of their draconian reforms for small and independent publishers.)
It’ll be tough to reverse the decision but stranger things have happened. There are precedents for the Postal Rate Commission to revise rulings but it’s going to take a massive groundswell of public opposition similar to the explosion of outrage over the FCC’s 2003 decision to change media ownership rules.
Our friends at Free Press, the national nonpartisan organization working to generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system, have created a website to mobilize the opposition but the protests aren’t coming only from progressives. This is not a right/left issue, which is why The Nation and William F. Buckley’s National Review are teaming up to demand that the Postal Board of Governors reverse its decision. The rightwing American Spectator and American Conservative have also both signed on to a letter of protest to the Postal Board of Governors.
Please join us in urging postal regulators and Congress to convene public hearings, determine how these rate increases were decided, and reverse the ruling. We only have until April 23–the end of the public comment period–to respond, so please take action today:
Write the Postal Rate Commission and Congress.
Learn more about the issue.
Help spread the word about the campaign.
The Post Office should not use its monopoly power to favor the largest publishers and undermine the ability of smaller publishers to compete. With your help we can reverse this decision and salvage the postal system that has served free speech in America so well for so long.