Over the past several days, at least three Alabama newspapers have warned that President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs could come at a significant cost to their businesses.
The Cullman Times, The Selma Times-Journal and The Jackson County Sentinel say a tariff levied against Canadian-manufactured newsprint at the behest of a single newsprint mill in the Pacific Northwest, North Pacific Paper Company (NORPAC) will raise their cost significantly.
“In August 2017, NORPAC petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce to begin applying tariffs to newsprint imported from Canada,” an editorial published in Friday’s Cullman Times explained. “NORPAC claimed the imported paper was harming the U.S. newsprint industry. NORPAC’s assumption is wrong, and this one company’s act is not in the best interest of the U.S. paper industry or the millions of readers of newspapers across the country, including those who read this newspaper.”
Selma Times-Journal president and publisher Dennis Palmer echoed the same concerns in an op-ed featured in the Saturday edition of his newspaper. According to Palmer, even though the newsprint for the Times-Journal doesn’t come from Canada, the tariffs have increased the price for all newsprint, and that raises his costs.
“The Selma Times-Journal is printed almost entirely on paper made in Grenada, Mississippi,” he wrote. “Community newspapers like ours represent a sliver of newspaper demand. Despite still-healthy print readership, we alone cannot create enough demand to stimulate the U.S. newsprint market and bring shuttered mills back to life. Yet our need for newsprint to fulfill our obligation to readers is as enduring as that of the Washington Post or New York Times.”
Jackson County Sentinel editor Brandon Cox estimated in an editorial in his newspaper last week the annual cost for business as a result of the tariffs could be $100,000 annually.
“Newsprint, sold in increments of tons, will see costs rise from $600 per ton to nearly $800 per ton. Last year, the Sentinel required approximately 450 tons of newsprint to produce Jackson County’s newspaper and the eight other community newspapers that print in Scottsboro,” he wrote. “The effects of these tariffs represent a nearly $100,000 increase to material expenses for our operation that employs 30 people in Jackson County.”
Very well could be, if something doesn’t change. If not more.
— Brandon Cox (@BrandonJCox) April 8, 2018
All three newspapers urged their respective members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Sens. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) to intervene and halt the tariff on newsprint.
“We join others in the news industry and in communities across the U.S. in calling for an end to the unnecessary newsprint tariff,” the Cullman Times editorial concluded.