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Trump's trade war threatens to put newspapers out of business

Skyrocketing newsprint costs are prompting layoffs and may force small town newspapers to shut down.

By Eric Boehlert - August 10, 2018
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President Donald Trump speaks as he meets with state leaders about prison reform, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Trump’s illogical trade war continues to spread misery into various sectors of the U.S. economy. It turns out it’s not just U.S. manufacturers, consumers, and farmers who are paying a high price for Trump’s needless tariffs — newspaper publishers are too.

Newspapers are now facing skyrocketing costs associated with newsprint purchased from Canadian suppliers, thanks to the unprecedented tariffs put in place by the Trump administration.

The huge — and unexpected — 20 percent increase in newsprint cost is hitting an industry that’s already teetering.

“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,” the New York Times reported on Thursday.

While at least one major-market daily, the Tampa Bay Times, had to lay off approximately 50 employees this year in order to pay for the $3 million increase in newsprint costs, much of the damage is being done to small town newspapers that service rural communities in red states.

“The future of local newspapers, read by millions of Americans in all 50 states are in jeopardy as a result of the newsprint tariffs,” warns the online advocacy site Stop Tariffs on Printers & Publishers.

Newspapers such as the (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel in Colorado, the (Natchez) Democrat, and the Vicksburg Post in Mississippi, the Salisbury Post in North Carolina, and the Athens Messenger in Ohio have reduced the number of days they published this year, in direct response to Trump’s trade war.

And in Ohio, the Jackson County Times-Journal abruptly closed its doors in July. “The closing of major retail chains, consolidations of other retailers and health-care providers and the ongoing tariff on newsprint have resulted in diminished revenue opportunity and increased costs,” its owner explained.

Publishers fear more papers may be shuttered.

Trump, of course, has bragged that trade wars are “easy to win.” But his tariffs are nearly universally opposed by economists and big business alike.

In recent weeks, major American manufacturers such as Whirlpool, General Motors and Harley-Davison have all warned that Trump’s shortsighted trade war will likely take big chunks out of their bottom lines, which could mean major layoffs.

Now add newspapers to the growing list of Trump trade war victims.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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