The US newspaper industry has plenty on its plate to worry about: competition with the internet; competition with other media such as television and radio newscasts; the onslaught of criticism from government; and more. But now the price for newsprint production has skyrocketed, making an already shaky industry falter much more.
The Trump administration placed a tariff on groundwood paper, the kind of paper used to make newspapers, because of worry that the paper was subsidized by the Canadian government and sold at below-market prices. The majority of groundwood comes from Canada, and about 70% of newspapers in the US use it.
Vice president of production for the New York Times, Nick D’Andrea said that the tariff is causing significant harm to newspaper production.
“Newspapers have their own challenges already. Our job is to try to protect the revenue of the printed newspaper,” D’Andrea said.
According to news industry analyst Ken Doctor, the tariff is just one more stomach-punch for newspapers which have already been making hard choices between firing employees to reducing the size of the papers and how many pages long they are.
“This is the kind of unexpected event that happens….It takes an industry that may be hurting a little, and makes it far worse,” Doctor said. “Those tariffs have caused an increase in newsprint pricing of about 30 to 35 percent.”
During the last ten years readership declined by over 30 million across the country. In the last five years COO at the New York Times, Meredith Kopit Levien has seen a 40% loss in the number of subscribers to the Times’ daily print newspapers.
“We are in a scary time for local journalism and I think quality, original, independent journalism at the local level is, like, foundational to community, to society, and ultimately to democracy,” Levien said.