Tariffs hurting survivability of community newspapers
July 10, 2018
Major newspaper and trade organizations such as the Nevada Press Association are urging the U.S. International Trade Commission not to assess tariffs on newsprint.
Any permanent decision to assess tariffs on newsprint will have a lasting, devastating effect on companies who publish newspapers in small communities that depend on their newspapers for the main source of information.
At the request of a single paper producer in Washington state, tariffs have been assessed on newsprint imported from Canada. Newspapers are struggling and fighting to survive in business. The sole petitioner in this case, North Pacific Paper Company, a small paper mill in Washington State, has failed to demonstrate that the U.S. industry is being harmed by imports from Canada.
NPA has joined other professional organizations in a movement organized by New Media Alliance's Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers (STOPP) to oppose additional tariffs.
STOPP is a coalition of associations and companies fighting newsprint tariffs that threaten more than 600,000 jobs across the entire U.S. printing and publishing industry
Legislation to stop these damaging trade sanctions against newsprint has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by a bi-partisan coalition led by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Rep. Charlie Crist, (D-FL.) The PRINT Act, HR 6031, would suspend tariffs now being collected on Canadian paper until the Department of Commerce completed a study on the capability of the U.S. newspaper industry to absorb the tariffs. It's a matter of time when similar legislation will be introduced in the U.S. Senate.
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Currently, upward to 32 percent in tariffs is being withheld until a final decision is rendered.
Many newspapers including those in Nevada have reduced their number of pages and/or companies have reduced editorial staffs or have elected to gap vacant positions until a clearer picture on the tariffs emerges. Other newspapers have raised the price of a single copy or subscriptions and/or increased advertising costs to their advertisers, many of whom struggle themselves in the smaller communities. The printer of two of Battle Born Media's six newspapers in Nevada, for example, has already imposed a surcharge on each printing job, which has resulted in a major impact on the bottom line of two newspapers already performing on very thin margins. Other publications have taken drastic steps.
Many community newspaper are the only source of local news in the counties they serve. Rural communities still rely on the printed newspaper as broadband service in these communities is still scarce, which eliminates Internet news as a viable source. Also, if these newspapers were to cease publishing, there would be very little coverage of local issues.
Unless any action to increase tariffs is rescinded, newspapers face cutting jobs or smaller newspapers in smaller communities will shutter their doors. Local community papers hold public officials accountable and preserve a sense of community by reporting on civic activities, high school sports, and issues relevant to local citizens. At best, the tariffs will mean less local reporting. At worst, it will mean no local reporting.
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