Newsprint tariffs threaten democracy
The following is an op-ed piece submitted to The Lookout by Michigan Press Association President and Chairman Brad Thompson, who is also CEO of the Detroit Legal News Company.
The U.S. Commerce Department has added anti-dumping duties of up to 32 percent on newsprint and some other paper products from Canada. According to the agency, these products benefit from unfair Canadian government subsidies. Most newspaper publishers across the country disagree.
The newly imposed tariff on newsprint is a direct threat to a cornerstone of democracy. Our congressional delegation can help stop this threat.
Newspapers still get a large share of their revenue from their print product. Newspapers buy tons of newsprint every year, and it is a significant portion of the industry’s expenses. The tariff imposed by the Department of Congress on Canadian newsprint has cut deeply into revenues and for many community newspapers, it could be an unnecessary threat to survival.
The Michigan Press Association represents over 280 newspapers in our great state and we fear this tariff is a threat to democracy in the communities they serve.
A government based on democracy requires a knowledgeable citizenry. This tariff will result in more cuts in newsrooms that are gamely doing their best with far less in the way of resources than they once had. Resources that let citizens know what their government is doing on all levels.
This tariff was based on the complaint of one newsprint company in the state of Washington. It will result in the loss of jobs across the country.
General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, James P. Hoffa states that the Teamsters oppose this tariff because of “the potential adverse effect to small and medium sized publications throughout the country and their workers.”
We ask the public to consider the damage to their communities if there are no watchdog newspaper to report to them. Please contact your member of Congress and urge them to let the ITC know this is a bad tariff by July 17, 2018. Also ask them to support The Print Act.