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Late mail

The mail last Tuesday — Jan. 5 —brought my copies of the Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 issues of Lawyers Weekly.

No word yet on the issues of Dec. 21, Dec. 28 and Jan. 4.

For many of you, the story has been the same. The papers come several weeks late, sometimes in batches. You’re late getting the info you need and have paid for.

We have heard from a number of you, and we know you’re not happy. Neither are we.

For the record, here’s how this works: Every week, we write, report and produce a newspaper for you. We send it to the press on Thursdays. For the two recent holiday weeks, we sent it to the press on Tuesdays.

The press prints the paper and deposits it with the local post office on Friday. If it all works like it is supposed to, the paper arrives on Monday, to match the issue date on the cover.

We haven’t missed a week yet. The people at the press are very diligent; they know their job there.

The problem is the mail. And this is absolutely not a screed against the Post Office.

For what it’s worth, our company has seen a similar problem in states other than Virginia. At our sister paper Michigan Lawyers Weekly, for example, there have been similar delays, with multiple November and December editions showing up in a single day’s mail delivery around New Year’s Day.

Last week, The Washington Post published an article about the USPS crush toward the end of the year and its impact on the newspaper business. There were three reasons that the mail, and therefore mailed papers, ran late in December:

So many packages. With the pandemic, people didn’t travel for the holidays as much as in years past. Christmas presents that normally would have been hand-delivered were boxed and mailed.

COVID-19’s impact. The coronavirus hit the postal workforce hard. Nearly 19,000 USPS workers were in quarantine at the end of 2020.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Publishers reported to the Post that the backlog of newspaper and other mail delivery started after DeJoy instituted a number of steps over the summer that were designed to save money for the postal service. These included a crackdown on overtime, fewer extra trips and other cost-savings efforts.

Add all the absentee ballots in the fall across the country and you have a lot of maxed-out mailpeople.

We remain hopeful that the system will get back to normal soon. We are trying to be patient and understand the delays. We ask the same of you. Your papers have been published and they will be coming.

And we invite you to take a look at our website. We put all the information from an issue of the paper on the site. So long as you are a subscriber, you are entitled to access to all the stories, opinion digests and features we publish there.

As always, we appreciate your feedback and we value your support. Thank you.

Paul Fletcher