There has been some discussion on AAN listservs regarding the ongoing fight against newsprint tariffs, including at least one post about the upcoming “fly-in” day to lobby members of Congress. Thanks to the STOPP Coalition, I am able to provide you with some updates on this issue and more information about how you can help.
As we have told you in two previous posts (here and here), AAN became a member of the STOPP Coalition back in March, responding to actions at the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC) which threatened to increase the price of newsprint which, in turn, would create new expenses for AAN members and, potentially, result in the loss of jobs among our members, the industry in general, and even other industries such as book publishing, commercial printing, ink supply, fuel production and, yes, paper manufacturing.
Unfortunately, the first and second of those fears have come to fruition: the Department of Commerce determined that a countervailing duty should be assessed on uncoated groundwood imports from Canada in the range of 4.4 to 9.9 percent, depending on the individual importer and later determined that anti-dumping duties should be assessed in a range from 0 to 22.16 percent (again, depending on the company in question).
As a result, some Canadian imports of newsprint are being assessed a duty of up to 32 percent, which is already being collected at US-Canada border, depending on the outcome of the proceedings at Commerce and the ITC. I have heard from some AAN members who have been notified by their paper suppliers of an increase in paper costs – one member estimated that it would have to spent at least $700 more per issue.
Here are some updates, followed by some action items AAN members should consider engaging in to fight back:
Important Recent and Upcoming Events
- Introduction of the PRINT Act.
This bill was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday, May 9 by Senators Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine. Other initial co-sponsors are: Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Doug Jones (D-AL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). As this Press Release from the STOPP Coalition (complete with quote from our fearless leader Molly Willmott) explains, the bill won’t reverse the Department of Commerce and/or International Trade Commission determinations or eliminate the possibility of these tariffs entirely; instead it will simply slow things down and require those bodies to have a better understanding of what’s at stake before imposing cost that may have an irreversible impact on our members. Specifically, the PRINT Act will:
- require a study by the DOC of the economic wellbeing, health and vitality of the newsprint industry and the local newspaper publishing industry in the U.S.;
- require a report from the Commerce Secretary to the President and Congress within 90 days that includes both the findings of the study and any recommendations the Secretary considers appropriate;
- pause any affirmative determination by the DOC or ITC (U.S. International Trade Commission) until the President certifies that he has received the report and has concluded that such a determination is in the economic interest of the United States; and
- halt the collection of cash deposits for uncoated groundwood imports currently under investigation at the Commerce Department until the President has made such certifications.
- News Media Alliance “Fly-In” on June 13-14.
The News Media Alliance is organizing a “fly in” which begins with a Hill briefing on Wednesday, June 13 and continues with a full day of congressional meetings on Thursday, June 14. There is a special hotel rate for those participating. If you’re interested, you can contact Paul Boyle of the News Media Alliance at email@example.com. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I ask that any AAN members planning to attend contact me as well, as I’m going to be participating on behalf of AAN and would love to meet up with you while you’re here. If you can’t make it, please let me know if you have any particular message you’d like to convey to your Senator or Representative and I’ll try to make that happen.
- International Trade Commission Hearing on July 17.
The International Trade Commission will be holding a hearing on July 17. As a result of this hearing, at which the ITC will look at the actual financial harm to the paper industry as a result of uncoated groundwood imports and could reduce or even reject the tariffs altogether.
- Contact your Members of Congress.
Though the PRINT Act won’t solve all our problems, it offers the possibility of a temporary stop on the collection of tariffs at the border which could mean that the pass-through costs stop as well. For that, the sponsors of the bill deserve our thanks – especially from AAN members publishing in their states. If your Senator is not a co-sponsor, perhaps a nudge in that direction is warranted: reach out and ask that he or she add themselves to the list. All Members of Congress – Senators and Representatives – could be integral in the ITC hearing by testifying or submitting comments for the record. Their voice could be very influential and your ask could influence them to weigh tin.
The STOPP Coalition website has a template letter for your use. It can be sent to Senator or Congressman and, while it currently asks for that individual’s help before the ITC, can be modified to ask that he or she sponsor or support the PRINT Act.
- Write About this.
Your voice matters. You are the papers of record in your local communities. You are the ones who will feel the pinch, who might be less able to inform their constituents and might be forced to lay off your employees. They need to hear from you.
If you aren’t willing to write to your Senator or Representative, consider writing an article or, better yet, an editorial. There are some great examples on the STOPP Coalition website for you to use as inspiration. Here are just a few in particular:
A radio piece from NPR’s All Things Considered Story
A letter from the Publisher of the Moonshine Ink near Lake Tahoe outlining the potential impact on the local community
A Columbia Journalism Review article explaining the financial impact on the entire newspaper industry.
Editorials and Op-eds that encourage readers to contact their Senators and Representatives as well are particularly helpful.
- Let me know what you’re Doing.
Whatever you do, please let me know. Send me your letters, your articles, your editorials and your op-eds. I will pass them on to the coordinators of the STOPP Coalition who will use the letters in Congressional outreach and publish the articles, editorials and op-eds on the website. If you’re coming to the fly-in, let me know.
I’m happy to help.
Kevin M. Goldberg
AAN Legal Counsel