At the New York Daily News, Monday was difficult. Half of the newsroom staff was laid off. From the Huffington Post:
“We are fundamentally restructuring the Daily News,” an email from Tronc to the staff reads. “We are reducing today the size of the editorial team by approximately 50 percent and re-focusing much of our talent on breaking news — especially in areas of crime, civil justice and public responsibility.” The paper had about 85 newsroom employees prior to the cuts, according to the New York Post.
Tronc is the company that owns the famed tabloid newspaper. The Daily News is not alone. As reported in the Financial Times:
Rising newsprint prices were cited by the Tampa Bay Times when it announced job cuts earlier this year. The publishers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have told its union that the paper will cease printing two days a week from next month. And the Salt Lake Tribune is printing its local news section only three days a week, with reductions to number of the remaining pages.
These are all effects of the Canadian newsprint tariffs that went into effect in March, before the broader rounds of tariffs were announced. They came in response to a petition by Norpac, the North Pacific Paper Company, that complained about the prices of Canadian paper due to subsidized mills. Since the tariffs went into effect, Norpac has increased production… but costs of newsprint have risen so much that newspapers are going under.
Most newspapers, facing the decline of subscribers and advertisers in the digital age, have been forced to reconfigure themselves in order to survive. In general, they are no longer significant moneymakers; rather, they have exhausted their assets to stay afloat as they dealt with the new realities of competition with other news sources. A city paper can no longer rely upon being the primary source of news, not when anyone can call up a preferred paper in a distant city in its electronic form.
They have, for the most part, managed to weather that storm but are in a terrible position should new catastrophes arise. The overnight surge in prices associated with a tariff are exactly that sort of catastrophe.
Even pro-Trump newspapers have warned of the situation. The Wall Street Journal had an article titled “Trump’s Newsprint Tariff Is a Tax on America’s Free Press“. The Washington Examiner declared, “Trump’s tariff on Canadian newsprint is killing US newspapers, Republicans warn“.
Tariffs can temporarily salvage jobs in the industry that’s being protected, but it kills jobs in industries that use the taxed product. Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that the greatest victim of Trump’s tariffs are news reporters of every stripe, conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Or it may be that President Trump is demonstrating that tariffs, as terrible as they may be for jobs and the economy, can be wonderful weapons for attacking those who would question you.