By: Seth Butler The Publisher’s Pen
(June 1, 2018)
Several weeks ago, we published a news story from the Associated Press and two editorials alerting you to the impacts of the rising cost of newsprint and how it will affect us.
The newsprint price increase is based on tariffs levied on paper mills in Canada, which produce a vast majority of the newsprint used in the United States. We, like most every other paper, are facing a 33.3 percent tariff on this newsprint imported from Canada.
In the editorial penned by our staff here at The Plain Talk, we also urged you to call our US Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, along with U.S. Congressman Dr. Phil Roe to voice your concerns to them about reversing these tariffs.
Because of this tariff and price increase, you may have noticed some slight changes to our newspaper in recent weeks.
Some of your favorite items may no longer appear on a color page. Some community news items of interest, from events that either we staff or you submit, may take longer than normal to get into the paper. Many of you have commented to me on just how thin our Tuesday edition has been since the start of May.
I urge you to bear with us. These steps we’ve taken in recent weeks are just another impact to help offset the astronomical rise of the newsprint you are holding in your hands right now.
Recently, I’ve spoken to several groups here in our hometown, as well as outside the community and the question of what I see as the biggest threat to small, community newspapers such as The Plain Talk are.
This time a year ago, if you had asked me for my main concerns for smalltown, community newspapers, those would be the health of local economies, other sources of free online news and the constant struggle to find graduates who are looking to enter the journalism field.
That list of issues, though, has been supplanted by the rising cost of newsprint. I would likely rank it so high, you could place it as threats Nos. 1 through 3 on the list of a SWOT analysis of our business.
Many of you have told me you have been affected by the rising newsprint cost, you just didn’t realize it at the time.
If you’ve asked me why our Tuesday edition has been 16 pages in recent weeks, why the Ramp Festival pageant photos were in the paper six days later and not in color, or why its taken us a while to print end of school related photos and other items, then you have been affected because by the newsprint tariff.
As we wrote back in our editorial in the March 31-April 1 edition, we feel this tariff is an unnecessary and unsustainable blow to us, our industry, and ultimately our community.
Newspapers are the lifeblood of any community. And we consider ourselves very much ingrained in the fibers of the Cocke County community.
We are here to serve you and no one else has the wherewithal to report on local school sports, local news and local government activities, as well as printing the community news items that many of you are interested in and that you subscribe to our paper for.
However, this tariff could seriously put some of those items in jeopardy.
I urge you to call your U.S. Congressman and Senators to help us. You can contact 1st District Congressman Dr. Phil Roe’s office at (202) 225-6356, U.S Senator Bob Corker’s office at 202-224-3344 and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander’s office at (202) 224-4944.
We would appreciate it if you could speak up and make your voice heard, so we can continue making your voice heard and telling your stories.