Newsprint tariff has painful consequences {Editor’s Column}

A few months ago we mentioned the 32 percent tariff placed on Canadian newsprint (where almost all uncoated paper in the U.S. comes from) thanks to a single complaint from a paper mill owned by a New York hedge fund, and the potential threat that tariff poses to the newspaper industry.
This week the consequences of that tariff hit close to home for subscribers to Grand Junction’s Daily Sentinel. Starting next month, the Sentinel will no longer publish its print versions on Monday and Tuesday, opting for online editions only, to the consternation of many older readers.
The newsprint tariff has raised prices and, in some instances, is causing paper shortages, staff layoffs, and changes in production. If the Department of Commerce decides to make the tariff permanent in September, more changes to the newspaper industry are imminent. Daily papers may cut press days to avoid cutting staff. Weekly papers will have to choose between keeping employees or smaller paper size, reduced page count and cutting circulation. We will consider changing from the current paper size to a smaller broadsheet or even a tabloid size (something we tried in the early 2000s amid much reader angst), cutting out all the free public service announcements and nonprofit advertising, and shuffling all but essential news to the back burner.
I hope it doesn’t come to that.
How can you help? First, call your congressmen and asking them to speak up about repealing the tariff. Second, support local journalism by subscribing. Third, if you’re a business owner, advertise in the paper. Think of it this way: you’re paying the paper to go to all those dry as dust meetings you don’t want to attend.

SURVEY RESULTS

People who don’t vote also don’t participate in online surveys. After two weeks all but one of the 29 folks who’ve responded to our voting survey are voters. I’m glad they voted, but I still want to know why those who didn’t vote didn’t. Thoughts?

HEADED TO DENVER

I’m honored to have been asked to join the board of the Colorado Press Association. I’m headed to Denver today for my first board meeting. I’m looking forward to representing rural Colorado and the independent owner business model as it pertains to journalism.

KUDOS TO THE ERBM BOARD

I hate public speaking (my lip twitches, my throat goes dry, I shake, etc.), so if I feel compelled to speak up at a board meeting it’s because my passion for the subject at hand overrides my natural anxiety.
Last month I addressed the ERBM board about their handling of open meetings rules and releasing public information, and shared copies of Colorado’s “Sunshine Laws” with the members of the board. After reviewing our concerns, they’ve agreed, for the most part, that it’s in the best interests of all if the paper gets a copy of the full board packet prior to the meeting (without having to file a formal public records request).
Thank you to the board hearing our concerns and taking them seriously. It’s much appreciated and makes it easier for us to keep the district’s constituents informed.

ARE YOU ZAPPING?

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re adding new “Zap” codes to the paper each week. By downloading the free Zappar app to your smartphone, you can scan the codes and see video, hear audio, watch slideshows, and more, right in the paper. Check it out!

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