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Newsprint prices up since October, poised to jump if Trump slaps duties on paper from Canada

By Bloomberg
Dec. 28, 2017 at 11:30 p.m.

Newsprint runs through the printing cylinders of a newspaper press July 2013 at The Washington Post production facility in Springfield, Virginia.

As if the U.S. newspaper business didn't have enough trouble coping with decades of lost readers and advertising dollars, an escalating trade dispute with Canada is poised to make every edition cost a lot more to publish.

Newsprint prices have jumped since October to a three-year high and may keep increasing if, as expected, the administration of President Donald Trump slaps duties on imported paper from Canada next month. America's northern neighbor accounts for about three quarters of what gets used in the U.S., from the Wall Street Journal to local news providers like the Idaho Press-Tribune.

The higher costs will squeeze U.S. newspapers already coping with 28 straight years of declining circulation and increased competition from the internet. Many publications have closed as print-advertising revenue plunged 80 percent since 2005. The New York Times Co. alone spent $72 million last year on newsprint, or 5 percent of operating costs. But the biggest impact may be at the hundreds of smaller papers with fewer financial resources.

"It could have a catastrophic impact on community journalism," said Matt Davison, the publisher and president of the Idaho Press-Tribune, which publishes six days a week and has a circulation of 15,000 in Nampa, about 20 miles west of Boise.

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