(June 19, 2018)
President Donald Trump’s trade war with the world — backing out of TPP, slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum, getting ready to shatter NAFTA — is now damaging our ability to do our jobs.
Already faced with declining ad revenue and readership, the nation’s newspapers are now being hit with higher prices for newsprint as tariffs applied to Canadian newsprint in March and April are continuing with no end in sight.
Because of the tariffs, newsprint costs will rise at least 17 percent this year alone. It represents what we call an “existential threat” to our industry – that is, it threatens our very existence.
Some would argue that the tariff represents “only a few cents” per copy of a newspaper. That may well be but based on our circulation figures, that represents half of an annual salary for one of our news employees. We already have to re-shuffle coverage almost constantly to keep up with declining revenues; throw in a sharp increase in production costs and it’s anybody’s guess how long we’ll be around. Small newspapers are closing, unable to make the payments on funds borrowed for operating costs; others are cutting back from five- and six-day-a-week circulation to two and sometimes one day a week because of the tariffs.
This isn’t just money lost and newspaper people unemployed; it’s news that isn’t reported, obituaries not run, city council and school board meetings not covered, citizens left uninformed about what their local governments are doing. It’s not just an industry that’s suffering, it’s your right to know being abridged and a freedom deemed so important to our nation’s founders that it is protected in the Constitution that is being threatened. Thinly veiled as “making America great again,” the tariffs in
fact are ripping at the very fabric of the American economy.
There is no reason for the tariffs. We did not ask to be “protected” from Canadian newsprint, and neither did our suppliers. In fact, with the exception of a single paper mill in Longview, Wash., which doesn’t even make the newsprint we use, the entire U.S. paper industry opposes these tariffs, which could also raise prices for books and children’s publications.
We would urge our readers to contact their congressional representatives and urge them to support the PRINT Act, which suspends the tariffs and asks the U.S. Commerce Department to examine the health of the printing and publishing industries. Tell them your access to information about your local community is being interrupted and may be destroyed forever.
You can write to Sen. Cory Gardner at 354 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or call him at (202) 224-5941; write to Sen. Michael Bennet at 261 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510 or call him at 202-224-5852; and write to Rep. Ken Buck, 1130 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 or call him at (202) 225-4676.