Congressman Pleads with Trump Administration to Prop Up Failing NewspapersOpinion
SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Texas Congressman Will Hurd, a Republican, recently sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging the Trump administration to drop tariffs on uncoated groundwood paper from Canada because the failing business models of newspapers can’t afford higher cost paper.
Hurd’s 23rd Congressional District stretches along the Mexican border between San Antonio and El Paso. Hurd says, “As the newspaper industry continues to move forward into the digital age, we must continue to protect the most vulnerable publishing companies, many of whom simply lack the resources needed to move to a digital business model.”
What the Congressman means is that the current newspaper business model is failing and is unsustainable with the advent of digital media like San Angelo LIVE! Newspapers have failed to keep up with the times and are now not profitable because of that refusal or inability to change. Hurd says the newspapers can’t afford the cost of paper so the federal government should subsidize them to keep them in business.
“Unfortunately, these tariffs have already forced some newspapers to reduce paper delivery to only once a week rather than everyday. This particular case poses serious economic strains for newspapers across the United States, and the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.”
The internet has been around for decades. Most news consumers now get at least some of their news from digital sources like San Angelo Live and almost every newspaper, TV station and radio station have a website. We are all competing for the same audience. And apparently according to Congressman Hurd, we are winning and newspapers are losing.
This is sort of like asking the government to subsidize the horse and buggy industry after the invention of the automobile. It just doesn’t make sense. Change, learn to be competitive or get out of the business.
Hurd writes, “The majority of U.S. newsprint manufacturers, and the American Forest and Paper Association oppose the (tariffs).” Hurd writes that the tariffs would cripple the U.S. paper manufacturing industry.
Hurd is right. The news business has shifted from printing and delivering newspapers to a digital platform where consumers can get the latest up-to-date news for free on their smartphone, tablet or computer. We would be better off supporting digital media sources by acknowledging that the time of the failed newspaper business model is over.
Congressman Hurd knows this truth very well. He serves as Chairman on the Subcommittee on Information Technology.