Trade wars rarely, if ever, benefit consumers. Higher tariffs translate to higher production costs, which translate to higher prices for goods and services. Thanks to the onerous newsprint tariffs that the Trump administration has enacted and is proposing to enact, the price of producing newspapers has risen dramatically over the past year — and it could go a whole lot higher in the near term.
It is a recipe to kill newsroom jobs.
The U.S. Department of Commerce plans to increase duties on Canadian newsprint by as much as 32 percent. The move is intended to punish Canada for undercutting prices charged by American paper producers — of which there are relatively few compared with Canada. Our northern neighbor gives its paper producers subsidies, enabling them to charge lower prices than their American competitors.
That said, only one American paper producer has complained, and most newspapers, particularly smaller community-based papers, operate on budgets with razor-thin profit margins — if they’re turning profits at all. Raising the price of newsprint could have a crippling effect on an industry that has existed on the North American continent for three centuries.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Steve Forbes states, “A sharp price hike in newsprint, which is generally the biggest budget item after labor, could force dozens of additional publications to close or be reduced to shadows of their former selves. The killing of local newspapers by the imposition of tariffs would gut the nation’s free press. It is local newspapers, not cable news networks, that scrutinize the goings-on at town halls, and how tax dollars are spent on schools and public works. Local papers are indispensable in uncovering corruption in government. They expose hospitals that mistreat patients and companies that dump chemicals into local streams. For many people of modest means or who live in rural areas, these papers are the top source of community news and information.”
Read Forbes’s full opinion piece here.
The Press Club of Long Island vehemently opposes the Trump administration’s newsprint tariffs, and we ask that all of our supporters reach out to their local congressional representatives to send a message that, one, they support newspapers, and two, they oppose newsprint tariffs.