Friday, August 10, 2018

Newsprint tariffs hurt newspapers across the country

"The Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian newsprint is hastening the demise of local newspapers across the country, forcing already-struggling publications to cut staff, reduce the number of days they print and, in at least one case, shutter entirely," Catie Edmondson and Jaclyn Peiser report for The New York Times.

Last week the Commerce Department ruled that it will continue imposing tariffs on Canadian newsprint, at a lower rate on most companies but higher on some. The U.S. International Trade Commission could overturn or alter Commerce's decision, but it's too late for at least one newspaper. The Jackson County Times-Journal in Ohio recently shut down, citing declining print readership and the tariffs.

Many newspapers have cut publication days, usually Mondays, and, according to a new study, newsprint prices will increase more than 30 percent within the next two years and costs for newspapers and printers will increase about half a billion dollars, the Times reports.

At The Blackshear Times, a rural weekly in southeast Georgia, "Tariffs have prompted a hiring freeze, and about 25 percent of its open positions remain unfilled. The paper serves a community of about 19,000 people with a weekly print circulation of about 3,700 and a total readership of 7,000," the Times reports. "The paper has seen a stark rise in printing costs of 20 to 25 percent," and has reduced its page count, "something readers have noticed and complained about." (The motto of the Times is "Liked by many, cussed by some, read by them all.")

The higher newsprint bill is “a whopping increase particularly for a small business that is already trying to combat decreased revenues and increased costs,” Publisher Robert Williams said. He said Blackshear is in a daily “news desert,” with no local TV station. Blackshear is in the Jacksonville, Fa., media market. "Residents rely on the paper to stay informed on Georgia politics and connected with their community, Williams told the Times. “There are no alternatives for The Blackshear Times in Blackshear, Ga.”

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