Archive for Las Vegas

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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Tariffs and supply disruptions threaten US newspapers

Las Vegas, Nevada

By Richard N. Velotta
(April 12, 2018)

Newspapers across the country could be thinner or even disappear in the near future as news executives nationwide wrestle with disruptions in paper supplies and new tariffs on newsprint.

Tariffs as high as 32 percent have been placed on imported newsprint from Canadian paper mills as the U.S. Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission investigate complaints of unfair trade practices leveled against Canadian suppliers by a Washington state-based paper company.

Tariffs have driven up the cost of newsprint, a commodity that already has seen prices increase over the years because of high demand and low supply. Newsprint is generally the second-highest cost for newspapers after payroll.

The problem is an additional frustration for the Las Vegas Review-Journal because its traditional newsprint supply rail route has been disrupted by Project Neon’s freeway improvements.

“Ensuring we have an adequate supply of newsprint is a day-to-day proposition,” Review-Journal Vice President for Production Janet Owen said Wednesday.

“We have been managing with limited newsprint reserves for about six months, and we don’t anticipate any improvement this year. The Review-Journal is doing everything possible to secure newsprint deliveries.”

Newsprint surcharges

In Northern Nevada, the 65 commercial printing accounts of PressWorks Ink in Carson City received an email from General Manager Chris Johnston on Wednesday announcing they would be assessed a newsprint surcharge on their orders because of the tariffs.

The surcharges vary depending on the size of the jobs, but Johnston said his company believes the pass-through costs are the fairest way to address the increase.

“They didn’t budget for this price increase, and it’s affecting everybody,” Johnston said.

He said he has seen fluctuations in the newsprint supply chain because orders for paper that once took two to three weeks now take four to six weeks to fulfill because of increased demand.

Some of his colleagues, he said, are buying paper from American producers to dodge the tariff charges despite higher domestic prices resulting from high demand.

Rural newspaper crisis

Paul Boyle, senior vice president of public policy for the News Media Alliance, an Arlington, Virginia-based trade association representing about 2,000 newspapers in the United States and Canada, said the disruption is having a devastating impact on newspapers across the country, including some in rural areas that are on the verge of ceasing publication.

Boyle said the Commerce Department is scheduled to conclude its investigation and make a determination on tariffs by Aug. 2.

Meanwhile, the International Trade Commission is expected to conduct a hearing July 17 and issue its findings in September, Boyle said.

“Countervailing and anti-dumping duties have been used and enforced by the government to protect U.S. industries and U.S. jobs, but with this petition for tariffs on newsprint, it’s actually going to have the opposite impact,” Boyle said. “Newspapers are facing considerable headwinds. We’re already seeing the impacts of these tariffs with newsprint prices going up 30 percent, and in some cases small newspapers are having a hard time actually finding supply because the market is completely disrupted.”

Newsprint supply problems began years ago as newspaper circulation declined and many publications shifted to digital formats, reduced the size of their publications or stopped printing on some days of the week.

To survive, many U.S. paper producers closed mills, reduced operations and began selling more newsprint to thriving markets in China, Russia and Europe.

Small mill’s complaint

Recently, a small mill in Longview, Washington, North Pacific Paper Corp., owned by hedge fund One Rock Capital Partners, complained that Canadian mills were competing unfairly with U.S. producers by operating with federal loan subsidies and harvesting trees on government land.

One Rock’s website said the New York-based hedge fund focuses on “underoptimized” companies, those that don’t make as much money as they potentially could. Working with a strategic partner, Japan’s giant Mitsubishi Corp., the fund is invested in fast food outlets, consumer appliances and chemical companies. It acquired North Pacific Paper in 2016.

While the Commerce Department investigates North Pacific’s complaints, temporary tariffs from 6.5 percent to 10 percent have been levied with collections going to an escrow account until the investigation is complete. This month, an additional 22 percent tariff was assessed because of a new allegation that Canadian mills were underpricing their product.

Though the tariffs are only temporary, American mills, which on average are running at about 97 percent of capacity, have raised their prices as demand goes up. Industry leaders fear newspapers might have to increase advertising rates and costs to consumers or cut staffs to keep up with the higher prices.

Ad revenue key

While displaying news exclusively online is an option for news organizations, print advertising is the primary generator of revenue for most newspapers and is essential to keeping the newsgathering side strong.

“It’s very possible that inadequate newsprint reserves will affect the page counts of the Review-Journal and perhaps that of our partner in the joint-operating agreement, the Las Vegas Sun,” Review-Journal Publisher and Editor Keith Moyer said Wednesday. “We’ll do everything possible to keep popular features in the print edition every day, and if we have to cut some content, we’ll publish the newspaper in full for our e-Edition.”

The Review-Journal’s e-Edition is a digital version of the print edition that allows readers to scroll pages and read each article with a tap or a mouse click on the story. It is available at no charge to all print subscribers.

Print subscribers who have not registered for the e-Edition can do so by going to the bottom of the Review-Journal’s home page, www.reviewjournal.com, and clicking on the e-Edition link at the bottom left. Additional pages of coverage will be added to the e-Edition if they have to be cut because of inadequate newsprint supplies, Moyer said.

STOPP campaign

Boyle said the News Media Alliance is coordinating an education campaign about newsprint tariffs and how they are affecting local communities. The organization is encouraging the public to contact representatives in Congress through its new website, stopnewsprinttariffs.org.

The organization’s STOPP campaign — for Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers — says tariffs threaten an estimated 600,000 jobs across the U.S. printing and publishing industry.
Newsprint by the numbers

— Each roll of newsprint weighs just under 1 metric ton, about 2,200 pounds.

— Each roll prints 32,000 copies of four pages across, or eight total using both sides of the roll.

— If unrolled, a roll of paper would stretch just over 11 miles — about the distance from the Fremont Street Experience at Las Vegas Boulevard to Interstate 215 near Town Square Las Vegas.

— The Review-Journal uses about 150 rolls per week for the daily publication and to print El Tiempo, Auto Magazine, Neon and the company’s affiliated weekly newspapers in Pahrump and Boulder City.

— Newsprint rolls arrive by rail car directly to the Review-Journal building, which can accommodate the content of five rail cars holding between 72 and 87 rolls each. It takes about three days to use all the paper in a full rail car.

— During the $1 billion Project Neon highway construction project, rail cars headed to the Review-Journal have been diverted to another site for off-loading, and the paper is transferred to the building by truck.

Tariffs and supply disruptions threaten US newspapers

EDITORIAL: Trump tariff on Canadian paper products could sink many publications

Las Vegas, Nevada

(March 29, 2018)

Lost amid the hullabaloo over Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel was a little-noticed protectionist offshoot that threatens to be equally destructive.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced this month that the administration would levy duties of up to 32 percent on Canadian paper imports. The move — imposed in response to complaints from a lone Washington state company — threatens to destroy far more jobs than it saves and creates further financial challenges for U.S. publishing companies, including newspapers.

It’s no secret that the newspaper industry has been in a state of transition for almost two decades, struggling with declining circulation and advertising as readers absorb more information from free online sources through smartphones and other electronic devices. Overall, the industry has lost circulation for 28 consecutive years, and ad revenue has fallen precipitously.

The tariffs will raise the price of newsprint, potentially driving publishers to increase subscription rates while cutting costs by reducing pages, cutting back production or even laying off workers. In short, the Trump duties will make it more difficult for newspapers — particularly smaller publications, of which Nevada has many good ones — to serve their communities.

“It’s a killer,” Paul Boyle, senior vice president of public policy at the News Media Alliance, told the Toronto Star. The alliance represents about 2,000 news organizations, including The New York Times. But that number could tumble thanks to the tariffs. “In some cases,” Mr. Boyle said, “you’re going to see smaller newspapers go out of business.”

To make matters worse, the Trump administration insists on taking this destructive step to protect one small operation in the northwest, Northern Pacific Paper. The company, which filed a complaint last year alleging that Canada unfairly subsidizes its paper producers, is owned by a New York hedge fund and employs 260 people. Meanwhile, American jobs in newspaper publishing and commercial printing number around 600,000.

Mr. Trump made no secret of his support for “fair trade,” articulated in his Make America Great Again slogan. He has also bragged that trade wars are “easy to win.” Whether he believes his own hyperbole or whether it’s all part of some big-picture “Art of the Deal” strategy remains to be seen, but in this case his brinkmanship could jeopardize an entire industry — an industry that plays a vital role in promoting the principles that sustain and nurture our democracy.

Yes, the Review-Journal has skin in this game. But we have long promoted the value of affordable goods and consensual commerce while speaking out against those who would erect barriers that drive up costs for U.S. consumers. The Trump newsprint duties are horrible policy all around, and the president should reconsider. If he doesn’t, you should ask Sens. Dean Heller and Catherine Cortez Masto, along with Reps. Dina Titus, Jacky Rosen, Mark Amodei and Ruben Kihuen, to make their voices heard — loudly.

EDITORIAL: Trump tariff on Canadian paper products could sink many publications