Criticism of the U.S. Postal Service's abundance of supervisors, problems with its retirement process, and possible shifts in its workforce were among the items of greatest interest to Dead Tree Edition readers this year.
The 10 most popular articles this year were all about the Postal Service, led by USPS Has Too Many Supervisors And Too Many Employees, Congressman Says with more than 18,000 page views and 1,140 hours on page. The Oct. 2 article (and its Oct. 16 follow-up, ranked #3 in popularity) became more significant a month later when the election made Rep. Darrell Issa the next chairman of the House committee overseeing the Postal Service.
Interest among postal workers concerning how their jobs might change showed up in high readership for USPS May Split Role of Letter Carrier By Creating "100% Street" Routes (ranked #2), Postal Service Plans to Use More Part-Time Employees (#6), and GAO Suggests Plant Closings, Two-Tiered Wage Structure for USPS (#7).
Concerns about practices that discourage USPS retirements showed up in the #4 ranking for Why Does USPS Make Retiring Difficult When It Has So Many Excess Employees? Tough Question #5 and #5 for How Does the Postal Service Discourage Early Retirement? Let Me Count the Ways.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Potter Quitting the Worst CEO Job in America, FSS Machines Shuffled Again -- But Do They Work?, and perennial favorite The Unofficial Guide to Flats Sequencing, which has been updated several times since its original publication nearly two years ago.
As for non-postal articles, readers spent the most time with NewPage Does The Curley Shuffle (Was it the article or the Three Stooges clip that drew them in?), Is Bankruptcy Inevitable for NewPage?, IRS Brings Son of Black Liquor Back From the Dead; Ruling May Be Worth Billions to U.S. Pulp Makers, and Newspapers Are Greener Than Web News, Says Environmental Expert.
While we're looking back on the year, allow me to walk you through the highlights and low points for Dead Tree Edition:
January: Dead Tree Edition reports that the regulations governing USPS price caps don't seem to anticipate the sort of deflation that occurred in 2010: "What is not clear is how the rate cap for 2011 will be calculated." Nine months later, the Postal Service realizes the regulations are not clear and asks the Postal Regulatory Commission how to calculate the rate cap for 2011.
February: D. Eadward Tree eats crow when newsprint manufacturer White Birch goes Chapter 11.
March: This blog breaks the news that publicly traded U.S. pulp manufacturers chalked up $6.5 billion in black liquor tax credits during 2009. Various media outlets have subsequently used that number without attribution. Are we really supposed to believe that they dug through the SEC filings of 21 companies to verify that the number was correct? Or is there a new rule of reporting that says you can rely on information from an anonymous blog as long as you don't cite it as the source?
April: We celebrate Earth Day by recommending the use of genuine Amazonian rubber condoms and the firing of Smokey the Bear.
May: The Associated Press distributes an article that for the first time quotes Dead Tree Edition as a source, in this case regarding a quarterly loss for Quad/Graphics. Someone wasn't paying attention to the new rules for citing anonymous blogs. (See March.)
June: Mr. Tree is named #43 on RISI's Power List of movers and shakers in the global paper industry. Still in shock, he reveals how he once confused parasitic wasps with parasitic WASPs.
July: Once again, Mr. Tree is found eating crow, this time after the IRS made "Son of Black Liquor" tax credits possible. He's still trying to figure out how the IRS determined that a "fuel meets the EPA registration requirements if the EPA does not require the fuel to be registered."
August: Print Media Centr's Deborah Corn, the Barbara Walters of the printing industry, publishes an extensive interview with Mr. Tree that delves into rumors that he lives in Hawaii.
September: A publisher offers Mr. Tree some actual money to write a series of articles in 2011. Stay tuned.
October: USPS announces that Pat Donahoe, whose double life as Mr. Tree had been exposed only five months earlier, will be the new Postmaster General.
November: Popular publishing analyst BoSacks' email newsletter says "my e-friend D. Eadward Tree has some of his usual excellent observations about our industry and the new magazine apps," referring to the article that introduced a new term -- app-oplexy. BoSacks responds to the resulting inquiries by insisting he doesn't know Mr. Tree's real identity. (Psst, don't tell Bo that his wife writes most of this blog's articles during his infamous poker games.)
December: Mr. Tree is so burned out that he goes nine days without publishing an article, then ends the hiatus with a rehash of what he previously published during the year. Hey, this Postmaster General thing is hard work.