Author Archive for STOPP Staff

Trump’s Tariffs on Canadian Newsprint Hasten Local Newspapers’ Demise

By Catie Edmondson and Jaclyn Peiser
(August 9, 2018)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian newsprint is hastening the demise of local newspapers across the country, forcing already-struggling publications to cut staff, reduce the number of days they print and, in at least one case, shutter entirely.

Surging newsprint costs are beginning to hurt publications like The Gazette in Janesville, Wis., the hometown paper of the House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, which has long felt a mandate to punch above its weight. The paper, with a newsroom staff of 22, was the first to publish the news in 2016 that Mr. Ryan would support the presidential candidacy of Donald J. Trump. And while its editorial board has endorsed Mr. Ryan countless times, the paper made national news when it chided him for refusing to hold town halls with his constituents.

Now, with newsprint tariffs increasing annual printing costs by $740,000, The Gazette has made several cuts to its staff and is using narrower paper, reducing the number of stories published every day (read more.)

Don’t just reduce newsprint tariffs; eliminate them (Editorial)

Syracuse, California


By Editorial Board
(August 9, 2018)

The Trump administration reduced tariffs on newsprint that are damaging our fragile industry, but it should have gone farther and eliminated them altogether.

Now, our hopes for an end to the tariffs rest on the International Trade Commission, which will decide an appeal later this month.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Commerce Department slapped punitive tariffs – as high as 22 percent — on specialty paper made in Canada. It was acting on a complaint from a single paper mill in the Pacific Northwest. The decision ignored the fact that newsprint production is practically non-existent in the eastern United States, due to the decline of the print newspaper industry over the past 10 years and the rise in demand for paperboard boxes driven by online retailers like Amazon.

The tariffs have done a lot of damage already, leading to layoffs and reduced print offerings in cities like Buffalo and Tampa. Small community newspapers are especially vulnerable to the spike in newsprint costs. It’s not an exaggeration to say some of them will go out of business if the tariffs stand. That would be a devastating loss to their communities and to the health of our democracy, which depends on a free and vibrant press to inform citizens and to be a government watchdog.

Sen. Charles Schumer and our delegation in the House of Representatives have been fighting to get the tariffs eliminated. They succeeded in getting the tariffs reduced, to a maximum of 16.88 percent. It should be zero because there is no economic justification for a tariff of any amount.

Now, lobbying efforts shift to the U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency. We urge the commission to cancel the newsprint tariffs altogether.

View the full article here

EDITORIAL: Trump administration eases newsprint tariffs

Las Vegas, Nevada


(August 4, 2018)

The Trump administration eased back somewhat from its proposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint, which could further devastate newspapers, particularly smaller ones. But the U.S. International Trade Commission, which has

the final say, should kill the taxes entirely when it hears the matter later this month.
The case arose from a complaint by a lone Washington paper mill owned by a New York hedge fund. The North Pacific Paper Co. argued Canada was unfairly subsidizing its producers, allowing them to undercut American companies. In response, the Commerce Department implemented tariffs in January of up to 22 percent on Canadian imports.

Newsprint is traditionally the second-largest cost for most publishers. During a time when print publications are struggling to meet the challenges of a digital market, the higher costs threaten to further drag down a variety of interests, particularly community newspapers, which play a vital role in keeping small-town and rural residents informed.

Several newspapers, including the Salt Lake Tribune, have already blamed layoffs or page cuts on the tariffs. The reality remains that while protectionism may indeed save domestic jobs in some industries — steel, for instance — the benefits too often outweigh the significant costs for consumers and workers in other sectors of the economy.

In Thursday’s announcement, the Trump administration revealed a handful of modifications. It will now spare two Canadian paper companies from the tariff while imposing a duty of 22 percent on another company. Remaining producers north of the border will face tariffs of up to 9.81 percent.
While an improvement, the adjustments don’t go far enough. The trade commission has the opportunity to roll back the tax at its next meeting. It makes no sense for the federal government to financially burden the already struggling publishing industry in an effort to shield a lone Washington paper mill from Canadian competition.

If the trade commission fails to kill the levies, however, Congress should act. A bipartisan bill proposed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has 20 co-sponsors and would put the tariffs on ice until the completion of an economic impact study. Identical legislation has support in the House. Nevada’s congressional delegation should jump on board to help ensure the measures move forward.

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CBS This Morning Newspaper Tariffs

(August 1st, 2018)

View the full video here

Newsprint Tariff May Be Costly To Everyone

Yankton, South Dakota


(July 30, 2018)

America’s newspapers are coping with the painful fallout of this chaotic age of tariffs and trade wars.
As reported in Saturday’s Press & Dakotan, the United States has imposed tariffs of more than 30 percent on Canadian newsprint, which has resulted in a sharp spike in prices for the paper upon which newspapers are printed. That is creating the specter of personnel layoffs for newspapers and printing plants — or worse, the closure of some newspapers, especially those that serve small, rural communities.

That’s why press associations and lawmakers in South Dakota and Nebraska, as well as states across the nation, are sounding the alarm about this tariff, the blame for which can really be placed on one company in the Pacific Northwest.

The Trump Administration imposed the tariff at the behest of the North Pacific Paper Company, a newsprint producer in Washington state. The company charges that Canada’s subsidizing of its newsprint industry (which is done because a great deal of the logging comes from federal forests) amounts to giving Canadian mills an unfair advantage by allowing them to market newsprint below cost in the U.S. market. Newspapers here purchase 75 percent of their newsprint from Canadian mills.

The results are potentially devastating. In particular, it may well sound a death knell for numerous weekly newspapers that serve small towns and are really the only form of local coverage these markets have.
“… I’ve had a few very small newspapers say this may be the final nail in the coffin,” said Dave Bordewyk, president of the South Dakota Newspaper Association. “They’ll be forced to close their doors because they can no longer continue their publications. They can’t deal with those kinds of price increases, particularly so quickly.”

This tariff is a threat not only to the livelihood of newspapers, but also to the people who count on the printed product for their information on what’s happening in their community and what their local governing bodies are doing.

In that sense, it is, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) put it, an economic assault on the spirit of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — the people’s right to know.

It can also have costly consequences — literally — in other areas.

A study released earlier this month by the Brookings Institute indicated that the closure of local newspapers, particularly in areas where there are relatively few newspapers serving the citizens (i.e. rural areas), can increase local government borrowing costs. Explaining the statistical phenomenon, the authors of the study theorized that “closing local newspapers increase government borrowing costs because (1) less information is publicly available, and (2) local officials are no longer monitored as closely, reducing the quality of governance.” The study indicated that the removal of newspapers from markets is related to the “deterioration in many government efficiency metrics, including government wage rates, government employees per capita and tax dollars per capita.”

The study also found that “alternative sources of media, such as the internet, are not acting as sufficient substitutes for local papers.”

So, there is much more at stake in this tariff fight than the rising cost of paper upon which a newspaper is printed. It can also impact your right to know and your right to decide on issues impacting you.

This issue is producing a rare bipartisan moment in Congress, with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers speaking out against this measure and warning of the impact it may have on local journalism in numerous communities.

“In rural areas lacking reliable Internet access, newspapers remain a trusted source of information for our constituents,” South Dakota’s congressional delegation wrote in a joint letter opposing the tariffs. “Because of this, rural businesses rely more heavily on printed news than other places for advertising.”

This tariff, driven by just one U.S. company, may have disastrous consequences that range far beyond the financial confines of the newspaper industry. It is a mistake, and it should be repealed by the U.S. International Trade Commission before those consequences become all too real and possibly irreversible.

View the full article here

Stopping The Presses?

Yankton, South Dakota

By Randy Dockendorf

(July 27, 2018)

Dave Bordewyk grew up around weekly newspapers, including a stint as editor for his brother’s Douglas County publications.

But because of newsprint tariffs, Bordewyk fears a number of weekly newspapers may not survive much longer. And many daily newspapers are also struggling with soaring newsprint costs.

Bordewyk sees the problem firsthand as executive director of the South Dakota Newspaper Association (SDNA). The organization, headquartered in Brookings, represents the state’s 125 daily and weekly newspapers.

“I have been talking to some publishers of weekly newspapers who have had their newsprint bills go up tremendously,” he said. “The Grant County Review in Milbank said its newsprint cost went up 15 percent this spring, and they’re looking at another double-digit increase later this summer.”

Those rapid, large increases are hitting newspapers hard during an already tough rural economy, he said.
“Translated for weekly newspapers, those increases mean anywhere from $50 to $200 a week,” he said. “You may think, ‘It’s only $50 a week.’ But when you take it over 52 weeks a year, it really adds up for a small newspaper.”

Those newspapers can’t fully absorb the cost increases or easily pass them along to subscribers and advertisers, he said.

“As a result, I’ve had a few very small newspapers say this may be the final nail in the coffin,” he said. “They’ll be forced to close their doors because they can no longer continue their publications. They can’t deal with those kinds of price increases, particularly so quickly.”

Numerous daily newspapers are also feeling the economic squeeze, Bordewyk said.

“One publisher said, for every order of newsprint, it was an additional $1,200 per truckload just as a result of the tariff,” he said.

South Dakota newspapers are hit especially hard because most of them purchase their newsprint from Canada, which has been slapped with the tariff, Bordewyk said.

He clarified one misconception surrounding the newsprint tariffs.

“The tariffs went into effect earlier this year and were not initiated by the Trump Administration,” he said. “People confuse things and believe this is part of the new Trump tariffs. They connect the issue to the president, but this is a separate matter.”

The Commerce Department imposed the tariffs last March on Canadian newsprint, or uncoated groundwood newspaper. The department initiated the tariffs in response to a complaint from the North Pacific Paper Company, a mill in Washington State.

Bordewyk emphasized the tariffs weren’t sought by other United States paper mills.

“This is brought about because of a single company,” he said. “It alleged that Canada was unfairly dumping newsprint onto the American market and that Canada subsidized production of (its nation’s) newsprint.”

The Canadian newsprint comes from logging on federal lands, which accounts for the Canadian government’s role in the industry, he noted.

AWAITING A DECISION

The issue may come to a head within a few weeks. The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) held a hearing last week in Washington on whether the newsprint tariffs should continue.
The ITC expects to make a decision later this summer.

Nineteen members of Congress spoke against the tariffs on Canadian newsprint, telling the ITC the import tax hurts local newspapers.

The South Dakota congressional delegation — U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem — submitted a joint statement opposing the preliminary duties. They urged the rejection of the tariffs imposed on the import of certain Canadian paper, including newsprint.

The letter noted the newsprint tariffs already exert a negative impact on South Dakota newspapers.
“The preliminary duties have been bad enough, and additional final duties have the potential to devastate rural newspapers in South Dakota,” they wrote.

“In rural areas lacking reliable Internet access, newspapers remain a trusted source of information for our constituents. Because of this, rural businesses rely more heavily on printed news than other places for advertising.

“Should newsprint prices continue to increase, rural newspapers will be forced to charge advertisers more and/or pass the increased costs onto their readers.”

The practical level for such action has been reached — and even exceeded — by most publications, the delegation wrote in its statement.

“Potential closures (of newspapers) not only would cost precious jobs in South Dakota’s rural communities but also would leave our constituents without access to a principal source of information,” they wrote.

“In short, our local communities and industry have become the victim of the trade remedies that are intended to protect them.”

SDNA is a member of STOPP, a nationwide coalition of publishers and printers fighting the newsprint tariffs. STOPP estimates the tariffs threaten more than 600,000 jobs in the U.S. printing and publishing industry.

SEEKING RELIEF

SDNA members met recently with Rounds and with Thune and Noem staffers in Washington.
In a column, Rounds noted the tariffs are climbing as high as 32 percent and “would be devastating to South Dakota newspapers.”

The South Dakota publications, and many others across the nation, are caught in an economic vise grip, Rounds wrote.

“Around 75 percent of newsprint used to print papers in the United States comes from Canada,” the senator wrote. “During our meeting, SDNA (members) told me that a semi-truck load of 850-pound rolls of newsprint will cost an additional $4,000 to $5,000 per shipment with these costly tariffs.”

After the meeting with SDNA members, Rounds signed on to co-sponsor S. 2835, the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade (PRINT) Act of 2018. This legislation, introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine), would suspend the import taxes on uncoated groundwood paper while the Department of Commerce examines the effects of tariffs on the publishing and printing industry.
“A final decision on making them permanent could come in September, and we hope to have a resolution before then,” Rounds said.

STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE

A permanent newsprint tariff would force changes in the newspapers that many people have come to expect, Bordewyk said.

“A lot of South Dakota’s smallest weekly newspapers are the most vulnerable. There is only so much they can do to absorb the costs or pass it along,” he said.

“For those newspapers who are able to keep their doors open, you’ll see less content. They will have to reduce the size of those papers and print fewer pages each week in order to hold down expenses.

The current problem for South Dakota newspapers, and those across the nation, is reflecting the overall economic woes in rural areas, Bordewyk said.

“Advertising is down in newspapers, both dailies and weeklies alike. For a long time, newspapers in South Dakota and the rest of the Midwest seemed insulated from whatever was going on in the global market,” he said.

“But the advertising has gone down and has also started moving into social media such as Facebook. We need to face what is happening now.”

CHANGES AHEAD?

The SDNA board has discussed the economic challenges, along with the tariffs, threatening the existence of many member newspapers, Bordewyk said.

“We just had a board meeting with the discussion on whether papers will need to go online,” he said. “There are still consumers today, particularly in the Midwest, who want a printed newspaper. They want that hard-copy version. It’s the preferred method for readers and advertisers in those communities. You can’t simply force a community newspaper to go online.”

The printed newspaper provides a written form of sharing news, Bordewyk said. The written word and photos keep communities informed and connected while providing a permanent record, he said.
In addition, the move to online newspapers would clash with an argument that surfaces in the Legislature nearly every year — bills allowing public government bodies to put their own records and proceedings online rather than in local newspapers.

Relying strictly on online public records would be dangerous, Bordewyk said. He pointed to the lack of a permanent record, with government bodies able to take down or alter minutes and other legal proceedings.
In addition, online records could be hacked, altered or deleted by outside sources, he argued.
“It’s been demonstrated time and again, where we see the importance of written records that are kept permanent,” he said.

Bordewyk sees the ITC decision as crucial and literally a make-or-break for many community newspapers.
“There’s no way to sugar coat it. This is crunch time for newspapers,” he said. “This issue of tariffs makes it very challenging for newspapers to survive.”

The impact of the newsprint tariff greatly impacts state’s, Bordewyk said.

“On the flip side, the good news is that South Dakotans still value newspapers and rely on the printed word to keep their communities engaged and informed,” he said.

“South Dakotans still want to know what is going on in their communities and across the region. Hopefully, that path forward is there and we can keep newspapers going forward.”

Despite the challenges facing the profession, Bordewyk sees journalism playing a crucial role now more than ever for democracy.

“Whether it’s newspapers as we know it or some other format, journalism will continue to play an important role,” he said.

View the full article here

PRI’s The World: Canadian Newsprint Tariffs

(July 26, 2018)

OUR OPINION: Newsprint tariff threat continues to loom in 11th hour

Tupelo, Mississippi


(July 26, 2018)

Our two greatest expenses at Journal Inc. are payroll and newsprint – the latter having come under great focus in the public eye since March of this year.

Since that time, a tariff of up to 30 percent on Canadian uncoated paper has raised the price of newsprint, creating the epitome of a tax on journalism at home and abroad.

The Trump administration ordered the tariffs in response to a complaint from a paper producer in Washington state, which argued that Canadian competitors take advantage of government subsidies to sell their product at unfairly low prices.

On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, made a final public appeal, warning that thousands of American jobs are at risk in the newspaper and publishing industry. Last week, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and 18 other members of congress testified against the tariffs before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will consider the broader impact on the economy when his department decides next week whether to make the tariff permanent on uncoated groundwood paper.

If the tariff is not made permanent by the Commerce Department, it will expire.

That expiration is imperative to the nature of “the good newspaper,” as former Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal publisher George McLean called it.

In a vision that he printed on the editorial page each Jan. 1, McLean shared what made any community newspaper the catalyst for its own success.

“The good newspaper is its community’s encourager which by making known what groups and individuals are doing brings mutual support for each other’s projects and invites still greater personal initiative. It is a community’s semi-official provider of pats on the back through news stories, pictures or editorials.
“The good newspaper can contribute perhaps more than any other institution to development of an active, mutually serving citizenship.

“The good newspaper should be a friend of its community, limiting criticism to needs for improvements rather than condemning shortcomings.

“The good newspaper will not merely report but will enlighten, recognizing that the typical citizen may be limited in his understanding of government, economics, human relations, etc., but frequently is eager for broader understanding when the information is presented in an interesting, credible manner.

“The good newspaper serves as an educational institution, takes up where a college degree or institutional walls may stop, teaches life as it actually is being lived without effort to conceal human potential and human progress, emphasizes the good more than the bad.”

To expound upon McLean’s proclamation for what the good newspaper is – the good newspaper is a beacon; a lighthouse to guide or warn – to seek and enable.

The good newspaper is a champion for all.

The newsprint tariff is the antagonist of the good newspaper; it seeks to damage and to stigmatize.
If you are a supporter of the good newspaper, it’s important to be part of the narrative and not a casualty of assumption.

We encourage you to continue to contact our representatives and members of Congress to remind them that a tax on the free press is a slight on patriotism.

View the full article here

US Lawmakers, Printers and Publishers Testify Against Crippling Import Tariffs on Canadian Newsprint

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

By Mark Michelson, Editor-in-Chief, Printing Impressions
(July 20, 2018)

With all of the talking heads on television news stations pontificating about the prospects for an international trade war initially fueled by tariffs that have been implemented by the Trump administration — including imported steel and aluminum — the import tariffs that are currently being imposed on Canadian uncoated groundwood papers (newsprint) aren’t capturing any attention within the electronic media.

Even so, July 17 was a pivotal day for the printing and publishing industry as more than a dozen Congressional lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, publishers, printers, newspaper advocacy groups and newsprint paper producers testified in Washington before the International Trade Commission (ITC) to express their strong opposition to the preliminary paper tariffs.

“The tariffs will hurt the U.S. paper industry because they will cause permanent harm to newspapers, printers and book publishers, shrinking the U.S. paper industry’s customer base,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) during her testimony before the ITC. “In fact, the tariffs will likely lead to less production of newsprint by U.S. manufacturers as customers cut their consumption once and for all. This is simply not the way Congress intended the trade laws to work.”

The ITC is reportedly slated to vote on Aug. 28 whether or not to make the import tariffs permanent. And the U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to render its decision on the matter by Aug. 2. Current tariffs on imported Canadian newsprint, which largely impact U.S. newspaper, book, directory and circular printers and publishers, will become permanent if both organizations vote in favor to keep them in place.

In January, the Department of Commerce assessed preliminary countervailing duties on uncoated groundwood ranging from 4.4% to 9.9%, depending on the Canadian paper manufacturer. Then, it later added preliminary antidumping duties, on top of the countervailing tariffs, of up to 22.16%, resulting in total tariffs of up to 32% now being imposed.

The preliminary countervailing and antidumping duties by the Department of Commerce emanate from a complaint filed by North Pacific Paper Corp. (NORPAC), a single-location paper manufacturer located in Longview, Wash., which is owned by a New York-based hedge fund. NORPAC is reportedly one of five newsprint paper mills still remaining in the U.S., but it was the only one to file an antidumping complaint.

Bills Introduced in Both Congressional Houses
In response to the impact of the current paper tariffs, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. Senate, led by Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine), introduced a bill in May that would delay dumping tariffs and countervailing duties currently being applied. The PRINT (Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade) Act would suspend the import taxes on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper and would require the Department of Commerce to complete a study on the consequences the tariffs will have on U.S. newspapers and the more than 600,000-employee-strong printing and publishing industry in general.

The bill would also suspend any action by the Commerce Department and the ITC on newsprint import duties until President Trump would receive the report and certify that the taxes are in the economic interests of the United States.

The bipartisan PRINT Act is co-sponsored by Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.). A very similar bill, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), has more than 20 co-sponsors.

View the full article here

OUR OPINION: Tariffs on newsprint cause far-reaching harm

Tupelo, Mississippi


(July 20, 2018)

It’s no secret that the news industry faces its share of challenges today.

One of the latest hurdles is one that’s avoidable.

This spring, the Trump administration ordered tariffs on Canadian newsprint. That action came in response to a complaint filed by a New York hedge fund that owns a paper mill in Washington state. It is separate from other, more high-profile tariffs announced recently.

And while it may appease some shareholders, the newsprint tariff has had far-reaching negative consequences.

The fact is, many U.S.-based paper mills are Canadian-owned entities, including a mill right here in Grenada.

Resolute Forest Products in Grenada employs more than 160 workers and supports an additional 500 jobs in the community, representing an economic impact of about $100 million.

While those mills are hit by the tariffs, the mill in Washington simply can’t make enough newsprint to meet the nation’s demand.

So the price of newsprint has risen dramatically, creating significant headwinds for papers across the country, especially middle-sized and smaller newspapers serving local communities.

These are not the national behemoths or talking-heads on television that have become national lighting rods. These are the community institutions working hard to inform citizens, tell your stories, serve as watchdogs and build communities. These are the publications reporting on your schools, churches and government and keeping you informed on the things that impact your daily life.

The Mississippi Press Association, and the 110 newspapers it represents, opposes the tariffs. Many of those publications are now scrambling to find ways to absorb a large, un-budgeted expense – reducing news coverage, laying off workers and taking other measures. Both the Vicksburg Post and the Natchez Democrat have cut production to five days per week, instead of seven.

An effort is underway to reverse the tariffs. On Tuesday, Senator Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, and 18 other members if congress testified against the tariffs before the U.S. International Trade Commission. It was a broad bipartisan coalition of federal lawmakers from across the country. No lawmaker testified in favor of the tariffs.

“My greatest concern is how these tariffs will harm a major newsprint producer in my state, as well as the many small and rural newspapers who operate with small budgets and tight margins,” said Wicker, who also co-sponsored legislation that would suspend the import taxes on newsprint.

The idea that an investment group representing a single company in a single state is able to cripple an industry across the nation is absurd. The newsprint tariff is harmful to tens of thousands of American jobs, not to mention the free press – a fundamental characteristic of American Democracy.

We appreciate the efforts of Wicker and his fellow members if congress in taking a stand against the tariffs.

It is time for the administration to take action and reverse them.

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