Once again, the 10 most popular articles were all about the Postal Service, led by USPS Retirement Mess: A Major Barrier to Downsizing and Obama Hints At Changes To Postal Service Workforce, each with nearly 20,000 page views. The irony is that many people mistakenly thought the first article was criticizing postal unions (I was actually praising them for addressing a problem that management seems to be ignoring.) and that nothing much has come of Obama’s hinting.
Readers actually spent the most time – nearly 1,000 hours – reading Postal Service, White House Engaged in 'Intense Discussions'. Nothing much seems to have come from those discussions, either.
The article receiving the most comments – a whopping 49 – was Postal Service Has Too Many Employees and Pays Them Too Much, Mailer Groups Say. A lot of postal employees wondered why USPS has so many supervisors, why they’re working overtime when there are supposedly too many workers, and why U.S. mailers are complaining about the best bulk postage rates in the world.
Speaking of overtime, both USPS Overtime on the Rise and Delayed Retirements, Rising Overtime Bedevil USPS Finances were on the top 10 list.
Getting Flipboarded out of business
One reason postal articles on Dead Tree Edition are so widely read is that sites devoted to postal news do such a good job of curating relevant content from other sites. Maybe that’s because they’re run by amateurs.
Most of the professional journalists who publish the media devoted to the printing, catalog, and paper industries hew to the time-honored principle of journalistic ego, which means you don’t publish anything not written by your own people unless it’s a news release. Within a few years, they’ll be Flipboarded out of business. But the amateurs will thrive.
The most popular non-postal articles dealt with NewPage, North America’s largest maker of magazine-quality paper, as it tried to maneuver out from under a staggering debt load. Tops was the prescient Is Bankruptcy Inevitable for NewPage?, published in September 2010. (The answer, we learned 12 months later, was yes.) Also popular were NewPage Finally Says the B Word; NewPage, Verso Owners Reportedly Discussing a Deal; and NewPage-Verso Merger Unlikely, 2 Experts Say.
Other highlights (and lowlights) of the year included:
- Taking on the mainstream media regarding shoddy reporting on postal issues – first Bloomburg BusinessWeek, then The Wall Street Journal, and finally The Washington Post’s George Will.
- Best headline: Wanted: New Postmaster General; Must Be Able To Kiss 535 Backsides Simultaneously. Runner-up: Mine's Bigger Than Yours: Quad and Donnelley Squabble Over Co-Mail.
- Best article that almost no one read: A tie between Invasion of the Bookazines, Featuring the Return of the Living Dead and The Magazine Industry's Identity Crisis, each of which had fewer than 300 readers. Because my day job is with a magazine company, some of my best writing is about the publishing business, but articles about postal issues and the paper industry get way more readership. People in publishing tend to be dangerously ignorant of their own industry.
- Most Controversial: Could Forever Stamps Become Worthless? What Bankruptcy Might Mean for USPS got swatted down by two different postal experts. Alan Robinson responded with Don’t Worry About Forever Stamps in Bankruptcy and Brian Sheehan with Why Postal Bankruptcy Doesn’t Make Sense. Ouch!
- Golden oldie: How Does the Postal Service Discourage Early Retirement? Let Me Count the Ways had more than 9,000 page views in 2011 even though it was published in September 2010. The issue is as relevant as ever, and the problem seems to be getting worse rather than better.
- Most edited: Sexy SlogansWith a Bite, which I wrote for Publishing Executive magazine. The PubExec editors wisely decided many of the slogans were too hot for a respectable magazine. But that didn't keep me from publishing them in Dead Tree Edition in the article Censor Me: The Magazine Slogans That Were Too Hot for Publishing Executive.