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UNITY Journalists calls for Congress to stop a U.S. Postal Service deal that could cripple the nation’s newspaper industry by handing an unfair discount to one of its largest competitors.
Cuts to the newspaper industry disproportionately hurt diversity in news coverage and the numbers of journalists of color and other underrepresented groups in newsrooms. UNITY stands with the Newspaper Association of America in challenging the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission’s deal to offer a reduced mailing rate solely to Valassis Direct Mail.
“The UNITY Journalists alliance agrees with the Newspaper Association of America that giving Valassis Direct Mail a discounted postal rate would seriously impair the newspaper industry’s ability to compete for much-needed advertising dollars,” said Joanna Hernandez, UNITY president.
The three-year Valassis deal does little to improve the financial condition of the U.S. Postal Service, adding $15 million in revenue for an agency that faces losses of $14 billion this year.
Direct mail competes with newspaper advertising, especially the insert-laden Sunday newspapers crucial to newspapers’ revenue, circulation and single-copy sales. Revenue from newspaper advertising supports reporters, editors and photographers who provide information critical to building an informed citizenry necessary for a participatory democracy. The loss of daily newspapers in New Orleans, Seattle and Denver should serve as a warning of what can happen if newspapers continue to lose advertising revenue to cheaper rivals like Valassis.
“The NAA estimates that this decision could cost newspapers an estimated $1 billion a year. And that would be devastating to an industry still struggling to keep the paying subscribers and advertisers that provide the majority of its revenue – and provide the salaries to employ journalists,” Hernandez said. “Our nation cannot afford to keep losing thousands of journalists because their employers cannot stay in business. We urge Congress to seriously consider the consequences of its actions on the newspaper industry, on media diversity and on democracy.”
As the news industry cut costs in 2009, job losses disproportionately affected journalists of color. As news companies began hiring again last year, the number and percentage of minority journalists continued to fall, according to an ASNE Newsroom Census.
UNITY urges U.S. representatives and senators to reverse the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission’s decision when Congress convenes in September.
UNITY Journalists for Diversity is a strategic alliance that:
- Advocates fair and accurate coverage about diversity — especially race, nationality, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Aggressively challenges that industry to staff its organizations at all levels to reflect the country’s diversity.
The UNITY board is made up of representatives from the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association, and NLGJA: The Association of LGBT Journalists.