National Newspaper Association pushes back on ending hard-copy postage statements

Mar 15, 2023

NNA Industry Alert

The National Newspaper Association today requested changes in the Postal Service’s plan to eliminate hard-copy Periodicals mailing statements (Form 3541) on January 21, 2024.

The Postal Service in February published its intention to accept only electronic documents. The change will require publishers who have previously brought their mailing statements in hard copy to local post offices to instead invest in a new process.

Options for publishers are to purchase certified mailing software. Or they can learn to use a free online application offered by USPS that provides publishers less flexibility in their use of the mail and can sometimes cause the loss of mailer discounts. NNA has previously advised USPS that the conversion will be disruptive to many small newspapers.

In its comments to USPS, NNA recommended three major changes in the USPS plan:

  1. USPS should extend the deadline to January 2025, to allow publishers more time to decide on software investments and learn new systems.
  2. USPS should require postmasters to hold in-person meetings with affected publishers no later than 180 days before discontinuing the hard-copy acceptance.
  3. USPS should continue to accept and move newspaper mail, even after the hard-copy deadline, while working with publishers to accept a digital postage statement.

The NNA noted that most NNA newspapers that stay abreast of postal developments have already made this conversion. For those not yet in digital compliance, USPS has a better way to encourage the transition.

"Publishers using Full-Service barcodes and electronic submission are eligible to receive scans of individual mail pieces as mail travels through the network," NNA Chair John Galer, publisher of the The Journal-News in Hillsboro, Illinois, said, "but we don’t get the data because USPS is not scanning our mail. Giving us real-time information so we can protect against subscriber loss would give every publisher an ample incentive to get into digital filing. Using a carrot rather than a stick would bring along more publishers with a lot better sense of trust than clobbering smaller newspapers with a change in the rules."

Galer said NNA would continue working with the Max Heath Postal Institute™ in the NNA Foundation to provide training on electronic 3541 filing. The next newspaper mail seminar is planned for April 19, 2023.

NNA’s comments are available here: