Trade commission ends bogus tariffs on newsprint

I wrote in this space a couple of months ago how recent 30 percent newsprint tariffs were designed solely to damage the newspaper industry.

It all started earlier this year, when the new owners of one Washington State mill filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) that Canadian suppliers had an advantage because they were unfairly being subsidized by their government to keep prices too low. At the time, the ITC agreed and added tariffs to Canadian newsprint.

On August 29, after hearing from a variety of newspaper owners and newsprint suppliers from the US and Canada, they voted 5-0 against making the tariffs permanent. This saga will hopefully end on September 17, when the ITC makes an official statement on the ruling.

During the six months of 30 percent tariffs, a small number of community newspapers went out of business, or simply stopped printing and went to online only. For the COURIER, it meant paying about $1,000 a month more for printing.

President Trump does have some power to reverse the decision, but so far there has been no indication such action is being considered. Of course, with this president, you never know, given his zeal to punish his perceived enemies.

Most people are unaware that price increases of newsprint impact the smaller community newspaper far more than their larger counterparts. The main reason is that larger papers have a higher percentage of digital revenue, since smaller papers rely more on newsprint to distribute content to readers. Some community newspapers, in fact, do not even have a website.

This was one reason why the ITC reversed its decision. The tariffs literally became an attack on community journalism. The main reason, however, was the fact that market forces were responsible for falling prices of newsprint, not subsidized Canadian companies.

Demand for newsprint is at an all-time low because the main customer—newspapers—have been in downsize mode for the last decade. Once the ITC heard from newspaper executives providing economic analyses of the allegations, it became obvious tariffs were only hurting US businesses.

The fact that one company could disrupt an entire industry with unproven allegations is cause for concern, but for now, reasonable minds made the correct move to end this farce against small-town America.

 

LA County Fair where are you?

I was going to write an entire column on how hard it is now to get information about the LA County Fair. It’s no secret they have suffered from attendance and budget woes over the past five years, but with a new CEO and a lot of reorganizing, there was hope for a turnaround.

I’ve always felt the fair offers many entertainment options for families, not only during fair days, but year round. This year,  management has been proactive in holding down ticket prices, while having fun with a Route 66 theme throughout their programs. But downsizing has also hurt the fair’s ability to reach to surrounding communities.

Unfortunately, the COURIER has received almost no information about this year’s activities, because the fair has stopped sending us promotional information. Not even a basic press release. In the past, the COURIER has been on their email list to receive important fair news and updates. We use this information to determine what to cover and photograph, calendars items, or promote special offers.

When I asked a fair marketing executive in person to help us help them, she was apologetic and said she could fix this communication issue. That was a couple of months ago and all we have heard since are crickets chirping. Even a follow up email went unanswered.

Clearly the fair has no interest in COURIER coverage or reaching Claremont residents. If you are interested in attending, I recommend you check out their website at lacountyfair.com. They do post on Facebook, but there are so many different pages with LA County Fair titles, it’s difficult to find anything specific.

I’m still encouraged that one day fair management will realize the COURIER has a greater reach to local communities than most of the marketing choices they are making now. Last year, an aerial video I produced of the fair’s fun zone garnered more than 12,000 views.

In the meantime, let’s hope we don’t miss too much! There’s always Claremont Day we can attend! Oh wait, that just came and went yesterday.

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