Since 1996, West Newsmagazine has been delivered to single family homes in West St. Louis County via the United States Postal Service. The paper is currently categorized as third-class mail, or what is more commonly known as bulk mail. In 2019, the USPS increased the price for third-class mail by nearly 3%, a historic price increase. That fact, coupled with an increased strain on the ability of local post offices to properly function, has moved West Newsmagazine to transition to a new type of postal permit.
For about two months, the publication has been advertising for readers to “request” that the publication be mailed to them, a form of voluntary subscription that would allow the paper to achieve periodical status.
“The response from readers has been overwhelming. It just feels good to see that level of support from this community that we love,” said Sharon Huber, co-owner of West Newsmagazine. “This move will help us continue to serve the area for decades to come.”
To request that they keep receiving the newspaper, readers need to visit westnewsmagazine.com/request and fill out a simple form. There is no charge to subscribe and the data requested will be kept confidential.
Plus, there are a number of benefits for the reader.
“With our current third-class permit, we have very little control over the mailing process,” explained Erica Myers, West Newsmagazine’s business manager. “Once we are classified as a periodical, the paper will get all the service benefits of first-class mail. We can really help readers who want to stop or start receiving the paper, who need to forward the paper, or who simply want to know when it will arrive.”
Myers pointed out that none of the third-class mail issues are the fault of local post offices. Rather, funding problems and a divisive political climate have created obstacles. “We mail more than 65,000 copies of West. That’s a big job. The local people we work with are awesome, but their hands are tied,” Myers said.
Another beneficiary of the move to a periodical permit will be the local businesses who advertise in West Newsmagazine. With many feeling the strain of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, their marketing dollars matter more than ever.
“We owe it to our advertising partners to be as efficient and effective as possible,” said West Newsmagazine Publisher Tim Weber. “Those local businesses are our lifeblood, and the lifeblood of this community. When the cost of postage is increased at historic levels, like it was last year, we cannot just pass that cost on to them. Postage is going to keep getting more expensive. The cost of paper keeps going up. Just like every business these days, we need creative solutions so that we can best serve our customers. In our case, that means moving to this new permit.”
Weber is also humbled by the outpouring of support from readers.
“We have had more than 15,000 people request West and its sister publication, Mid Rivers Newsmagazine, in just over six weeks. That’s amazing. It’s incredibly rewarding to work at a community newspaper all the time, but when the community comes together to help us it just fills your heart. It really does. We are all so appreciative.”
The newspaper’s goal is to reach 30,000 subscribers by the end of the year. Readers can learn more about the program and fill out a voluntary subscription form at westnewsmagazine.com/request.