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Newsprint Tariffs Could Mean Fewer Journalists, Less News

The newspaper industry employs 65 percent fewer Americans than it did two decades ago. (pixabay)
The newspaper industry employs 65 percent fewer Americans than it did two decades ago. (pixabay)
May 9, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Newspapers are sounding the alarm about a new tariff on newsprint that is having unexpected consequences.

Following a complaint from a Washington state-based paper mill that Canadian paper producers were dumping product in the U.S., the Commerce Department imposed substantial new tariffs on Canadian newsprint.

At the same time, the U.S. doesn't have enough mills to supply newspapers and the cost of newsprint from Canada has increased 20 percent.

Paul Boyle, senior vice president for public policy with the News Media Alliance, says if the newsprint tariff is not overturned, newspapers strapped by years of declining revenues are going to employ fewer journalists, and possibly reduce the size of local newspapers and how many days they publish.

"The newspaper industry is going up against really tough headwinds,” he states. “We've lost more than 55 percent of our advertising revenue since 2008. These tariffs right now are a kick in the teeth."

Leaders at several newspapers are encouraging congressional representatives to step into the conflict. The U.S. International Trade Commission has scheduled a hearing July 17 on the issue.

Boyle worries that damage already is being done to ailing newspapers. He says larger newspapers could survive the 20 percent tariff, but smaller daily or weekly papers in rural America would have a tougher time.

"So, unfortunately, newspapers are going to have to take steps to cut costs, and that may mean less news in local communities,” he points out. “That will hurt small markets in rural areas in particular that still very much rely on the printed newspaper."

The newspaper industry employs 65 percent fewer Americans than it did two decades ago.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM