Archive for Mississippi

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.

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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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