There's still a lot to do in the fight against newsprint tariffs
We have previously updated you with regard to the ongoing saga of tariffs being imposed on uncoated groundwood paper used in newsprint. If you haven't already seen them, then you can read our updates here and here. At the time of our most recent update, the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission (ITC) had each issued preliminary determinations that would eventually lead to the collection of duties by the Customs and Border Patrol as these materials were being imported into the United States. Specifically, DOC determined that subsidies from the Canadian government to mills in that country merited imposition of a countervailing duty in the range of 4.4 to 9.9 percent, depending on the particular company involved, though a separate finding indicated that an antidumping duty of up to 22 percent should be imposed. Newspapers are feeling the sting as collection of these duties at the border has increased the cost of paper and led at least one newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, to announce layoffs.
This fight is far from over. Both the DOC and ITC proceedings are ongoing; Congress has now weighed in. You can add your voice, as well. Here's a brief summary of recent and upcoming events and what you can do to help in each area:
Introduction of the PRINT Act
What it is:
- Legislation introduced on May 14, 2018, by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
- It will not overturn the DOC or ITC decisions but instead will:
- require a study by DOC on the economic well-being, health and vitality of the newsprint industry and the local newspaper publishing industry in the United States;
- 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 DOC or ITC 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 DOC until the president has made such certifications.
- Read the bill and the STOPP Coalition press release (which contains a quote from ASNE President Alfredo Carbajal)
- Thank your senator if he or she is a co-sponsor, ask your senator to join as a co-sponsor, or otherwise, support the bill if he or she hasn't committed yet.
Congressional “Fly-In” on June 13-14:
What it is:
- A two-day advocacy effort organized by the STOPP Coalition that will begin with a Hill briefing on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 13, and continue with meetings with members of Congress on Thursday, June 14.
- A special hotel rate has been obtained for those who want to come to Washington, D.C., to participate.
- Participate: Please contact Paul Boyle of the News Media Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are planning to attend. In the alternative, or in addition, you can contact ASNE Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at 703-812-0462 or email@example.com.
- Offer supporting materials: Kevin M. Goldberg is planning to represent ASNE at the event. If you can't make it in person, then you can send along messages for him to convey to your senator or representative. Again, you can send these to firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Trade Commission Hearing on July 17:
What it is:
- ITC will be hearing oral testimony and reviewing written testimony on this issue.
- In August, it will issue a final determination in which it could reduce or even eliminate the tariffs being imposed at the border.
- Contact your member of Congress and ask him or her to testify in person or submit a written statement for the record.
- The STOPP Coalition has made a template letter available for this purpose; it can be modified to suit your voice or to encourage your senator or representative to co-sponsor or support the PRINT Act.
Of course, your message, as expressed on the very printed pages that are at the heart of this issue, is strongest. We encourage you to write about this by reporting on the issue, editorializing or running op-eds, and if you do the latter, then please encourage readers to reach out to senators and representatives, as well.
The STOPP Coalition website has several great examples of articles and editorials on this issue. Here are some that may be of particular interest to ASNE members:
- A Washington Post editorial on the impact this will have on jobs
- Reporting on the issue from the Las Vegas Review-Journal
- An editorial from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review explaining how this will curb the press' watchdog role
- Tampa Bay Tribune Chairman and CEO Paul Tash's letter to readers
- The Columbia Journalism Review's reporting on the potential for layoffs across the country
If you write anything on this issue, whether a letter to your member of Congress, an article, an editorial or an op-ed, please send it to ASNE Legal Counsel Kevin M. Goldberg at 703-812-0462 or email@example.com. He will pass these on to coordinators for the STOPP Coalition, who will be using them during the fly-in and other meetings with individual members of Congress.