AP NEWS

Let the presses roll

September 3, 2018

Most people, if asked to classify the newspaper industry according to the work it performs, would describe it as part of the information media sector of the economy.

It is also manufacturing. Printing, publishing and distributing a newspaper is a manufacturing cycle, and its largest raw material is newsprint — the paper on which newspapers run off the presses. The cost of newsprint weighs heavily in the profit-and-loss columns of newspapers’ finances.

Thus The Day and other U.S. newspapers were gratified by the voteof the U.S. International Trade Commission last week that blocked Trump administration tariffs on imported newsprint. While most New England newspapers get their newsprint from Canada, the ITC found that American producers of newsprint weren’t being harmed by these imports.

The North Pacific Paper Co., a producer of newsprint in Washington state, had complained to the Commerce Department that its business was being harmed by lower prices on Canadian competitors’ paper. The department had modified the tariffs in August but an ITC decision to keep the tariffs was required for making them permanent. The ruling against was unanimous.

With the year approaching its fourth quarter, newspaper companies haven’t yet seen the hoped-for drop in newsprint costs from resumed competition. The Day Publishing Co. has had a 26 percent increase this year, and President and Publisher Pat Richardson said she expects continued high prices for the time being.

If not for the ITC ruling, however, the future cost of newsprint could make it even harder for newspapers, including smaller, local publications, to keep their communities informed.

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