Editorial: For USPS, the Bad News
Officials have been able to reduce the postal work force by 23,000 through attrition. They're also laying out plans to close unneeded processing facilities and money-losing post offices around the country.
However, don't dig out your dancing shoes just yet. Though postal managers have reined in costs, they have two big obstacles. One is the erosion of First-Class mail, the USPS' most profitable mail category. Thanks to e-mail -- especially e-payments -- First-Class volume is declining. The other is the cost behind the postal service's retirement benefit program, which will increase from $8 billion last year to $16 billion by 2010, according to the General Accounting Office. That's quite an albatross around Potter's neck.
Blame 'Pop-Up Video'
The "I Hate Pop-Ups" Movement continues to grow even as their use tiptoes into the biggest medium of all. EarthLink added a feature this summer letting subscribers block pop-up ads, while iVillage banned them from its network of sites entirely. Also, firms like Blazing Logic sell software to block pop-ups. Too bad marketers find pop-ups more effective at driving response than other Web advertising. Now, along comes a report in last week's Wall Street Journal saying that TNT and Court TV have toyed with pop-up messages from American Express and Planters nuts during regular programming. Networks are against the notion at the moment, but as the ability to zap through commercials becomes even easier -- thanks to digital recorders like TiVo -- will that resistance remain or will the pop-up's allure become too great?