TEXAS VIEW: Paper tariff must be stopped

By The Daily Sentinel

Some of the best news this year regarding the media came out of the NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas.

U.S. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn — the senior senator from Texas — said he’s actively opposing a tariff on Canadian newsprint put into place earlier this year.

“Newspapers are beleaguered already and I don’t think we need to make that any harder than it already is,” Cornyn told The Daily Sentinel.

For the news industry, and for you, dear readers, it was some of the best news of the day.

Cornyn said he had spoken in opposition to the tariff with Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and was “hopeful we’ll see some positive results.”

“People need access to well-researched and well-written, accurate news,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn’s right, and we are pleased to have the No. 2 Republican in Congress as an advocate for our industry.

Canadian newsprint makes up 75 percent of the paper used for American newspapers. That’s not because, as one company complained, Canada is undercutting prices. It’s because paper mills have been closing across the United States for more than a decade. We saw it in the Pineywoods in 2004 when Abitibi shuttered its mill in Lufkin.

Since circulations of major metro papers have decreased, mills began shutting down newsprint production. Now, America simply cannot produce enough paper to keep up with demand.

The tariff has tacked on an undue burden to newspapers and newspaper readers. Papers across the country have made cutbacks. Employees have lost their jobs. Stories go uncovered. Some government agencies are now without a watchdog.

The tariffs are not yet permanent but are still in effect. Soon the International Trade Commission will rule on the tariffs, and we encourage newspapers readers to contact U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Sen. Ted Cruz and let them know these tariffs must not continue.

Community journalism depends on it.

Having Cornyn on the side of the newspaper industry helps, but readers must make their voices heard to our nation’s leaders.

During our interview with Cornyn, there was no glitz, no TV cameras, no expensive microphones. It was just Cornyn, flanked by aides and Secret Service agents walking and talking with a reporter from your hometown newspaper.

Anyone watching on TV missed it. Instead they heard President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist bash the media — some criticism may be deserved but most is not. You couldn’t read this in The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle or anywhere online.

You’ll only find this story in your local paper. That’s what we’re here for.