USPS delays are threatening small-town newspapers. So is a postage price increase.

Historic volumes of packages have gummed up the Postal Service, and community newspapers are getting caught in the mail backlog.

The U.S. Postal Service has been under siege for months as record volumes of holiday packages and election mail ran up against a spike in coronavirus cases within its workforce, leaving the agency severely short-staffed. Nearly 19,000 workers were in quarantine at the end of 2020 after becoming infected or exposed to the virus, according to the American Postal Workers Union.

That has left hundreds of small publishers struggling to deliver their products, according to the National Newspaper Association, undercutting their advertising revenues and subscriber bases, and depriving the largely rural communities they serve of crucial news coverage. Some news operations have even called on reporters and editors to deliver papers.
They’re also staring down rate increases of as much as 9 percent in 2022 and for years thereafter. Mail service is already one of their biggest costs, industry insiders say, and such a scenario could force hundreds of small publications out of business given their already bite-size margins.

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