Home Opinion Editorial Opposition to harmful newsprint tariffs grows

Opposition to harmful newsprint tariffs grows

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There’s an issue on which members of the state’s congressional delegation, including the two vying to become New Mexico’s next governor, were recently able to agree. That issue? The need to undo newsprint tariffs having a detrimental impact on local newspapers around the state.

A joint statement outlining senators’ and representatives’ opposition to the tariffs described well the measure’s harmful impact — as well as the value, to their communities, of the news-gathering operations that find themselves in the economic crosshairs.

U.S. Representatives Steve Pearce and Michelle Lujan Grisham, one of whom will be elected governor come November, along with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján and U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, last week urged the U.S. International Trade Commission to reverse newsprint tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, which are upping costs for papers, here and throughout the country.

The tariffs on a type of Canadian paper used by newspapers around the U.S. were imposed after a petition by a single paper mill in Washington state, which claims importation of the paper damages its business. The move looks to dramatically increase production costs and could ultimately jeopardize many thousands of U.S. jobs.

The printing, publishing and paper industries, among others, overwhelmingly oppose the tariffs. The New Mexico delegation’s opposition comes after state residents joined more than 10,000 other Americans in signing a petition in opposition to the tariffs.

The petition was created by the Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers (STOPP) Coalition, a group that includes the New Mexico Press Association. Online readers of the Roswell Daily Record have likely noticed a link from our website to an online version of the petition that’s been posted for the past few weeks.

“We agree with hundreds of the petition’s signatories from New Mexico in their call to protect a free press and ensure robust journalism to strengthen our democracy,” the state’s congressional delegation collectively wrote last week, adding, “In many towns and rural communities in New Mexico, the local newspaper is the chief source of information that affects daily life for citizens, and keeps the community connected with one another.

“Local papers hold public officials accountable and preserve a sense of community by reporting on civic activities, high school sports, and issues relevant to local citizens.” Hear, hear.

We in this country are living through interesting times, to say the least. A period of tumult here and there is part of the existence of any nation, but especially one as large, as diverse — and as free — as ours. It’s important to weather the storm with the institutions that unite us intact. Measures that disrupt and damage the interests of U.S. industries — many of which, in one form or another, bring and keep communities together — run counter to that in ways that can have long-lasting negative impact.

Through many times of unease, wide-ranging disagreement and changes in how we communicate with one another, for better or worse, newspapers have been among the constants. Sometimes they’ve offered perspective on the divisions, sometimes they’ve provided readers wi th steady reminders of the many things important to all of us. Most papers are striving to do a little bit of both most days.

They’ve demonstrated their commitment to continuing that, regardless of the economic challenges involved — of which there are many. But these tariffs are an undue burden, at the wrong time.

The New Mexico delegation and state residents who signed the STOPP petition, along with many around the country who’ve also opposed the newsprint tariffs, recognize that and understand what’s at stake. Now the ITC, which is expected to make a decision in September, should listen.

Will Rogers once said, “All I know is what I read in the papers,” and that’s many an editor’s favorite quote, but those weighing the future of these tariffs shouldn’t stop there.

They should listen to the people who depend on their local newspaper. That will tell them all they need to know.

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John Dilmore is editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He can be reached at editor@ rdrnews.com.