Tariffs’ defeat a win for journalism

Action by the International Trade Commission on Thursday to block tariffs imposed on imported Canadian newsprint was a huge win for newspapers, other printers and their vendors – and equally importantly, a win for the flow of information to American citizens.

The ITC’s action reversed tariffs imposed months ago by the Department of Commerce of up to 28 percent. Because the tariffs were imposed in the face of an already very tight newsprint market, newsprint buyers were caught in a perfect storm and watched in dismay as their cost increased by $150 a metric ton over a 12-month period.

Newsprint, the majority of which is imported from Canada, is typically the second-highest cost for a newspaper, exceeded only by wages and salaries.

An increase of this magnitude in such a compressed time frame is obviously not sustainable for the longer term. Across the country, the top source of information and news in many communities was put at risk. The higher cost of newsprint led a number of papers to reduce staffing, which in turn impacted the number of stories and events that can be covered. We know of at least two newspapers in Kentucky that dropped a publication day as a result of these tariffs, while others reduced the number of pages.

The ITC in its finding unanimously determined that newsprint producers in the United States were not being harmed by imports from Canadian newsprint mills.

Prior to the ITC decision, congressmen from both sides of the aisle had testified against the tariff before the commission. In another show of bipartisan support, bills were pending in the House and Senate that would have put the tariffs on hold until a study could be made on the economic impact.

In response to the ITC decision, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “These tariffs were extremely harmful to our regional papers — the lifeblood of our local communities.”

STOPP, a coalition of printers, publishers, retailers, paper suppliers and distributors, called the ITC decision “a great day for American Journalism.” Amen to that.

The Daily News of Bowling Green