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IPA HEADLINES

Tariff takes its toll on Illinois newspapers

by Sam Fisher, IPA president & CEO

Unfortunately, I have learned a lot more about trade laws and tariffs than I had ever anticipated. As I wrote in a previous editorial, I understand that trade laws are in place for a reason – ultimately, to protect American jobs and interests – but this round of tariffs will devastate our industry and the communities we serve.

We have every right to protect the best interests of our industry, but equally important is to convey the message that newspapers are a part of the fabric of the communities that we serve.

When Representative Cheri Bustos agreed to take the lead on the Congressional letter to the International Trade Commission, her staff was interested in knowing the specific impact on Illinois newspapers and that’s why we put together the simple survey we conducted from May 2-11.

The survey results speak to my point about this tariff not protecting American jobs or interests.

When it comes to jobs, the survey results clearly illustrate that not only have our members reduced staff currently, but that number will grow if the tariffs become permanent. Of the 250 newspapers that were represented in the survey, 42 percent have already made staff reductions or not filled open positions. If the tariffs become permanent, 60 percent said that there would be an impact on their workforce.

And then when it comes to interests, we have to look at the communities we serve. That focus is reflected by the amount of newsprint we have to use to promote and report on all the good causes in our community, as we are the conduit for these local organizations. If the tariffs become permanent, 68 percent of respondents will reduce page count and 13 percent will look at reducing publishing days.

As a long-time publisher, we would often donate space to the local United Way, so they could communicate their mission to raise the much-needed money to help fund services in our community. That type of arrangement is in jeopardy as newsprint prices continue to increase.

We’ve included the results of the survey online and if anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Our message has resonated with the elected officials we have met with, and the editorials written and published by our members have had a huge impact.

This issue is not over and it’s no time to lose the momentum we’ve gained so far – keep spreading the message, writing the editorials that make the case against tariffs and running the STOPP ads (if you would like to read what other Illinois newspapers are saying, click here to download tearsheets).

We always encourage our members to build relationships with their elected officials, and the tariff issue has shown how beneficial those relationships are in protecting the interests of our newspapers and communities.

I’ve seen how we’ve mobilized as an industry and that’s encouraging as we have more battles looming.

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