Star Demo­crat launches Mon­day e-edi­tion

Com­merce Dept. makes newsprint tar­iffs per­ma­nent, but low­ers rates

Dorchester Star - - WHAT’S UP - By JAKE OWENS [email protected]­pub.com

EAS­TON — The Star Demo­crat launched a lo­cal e-edi­tion for Mon­days, which be­gan Aug 6.

The e-edi­tion will fea­ture at least six pages each Mon­day in a long tabloid size and will in­clude lo­cal news and the daily comics and puz­zles. The size will al­low for eas­ier print­ing at home than the broad­sheet size of the print edi­tion.

Last Fri­day’s Star Democrats also fea­tured the first edi­tion of a com­bined Week­end! and TV Weekly, com­bin­ing lo­cal arts and en­ter­tain­ment news and up­com­ing events with daily TV list­ings and puz­zles. The comics that have been in­cluded in the Week­end! sec­tion on Fri­days now will ap­pear in the sports sec­tion.

David Fike, pres­i­dent of the The Star Demo­crat’s par­ent com­pany, APG Me­dia of Ch­e­sa­peake, an­nounced the elim­i­na­tion of the pa­per’s Mon­day print edi­tion in a July 6 col­umn, cit­ing a mas­sive in­crease in newsprint costs due to tar­iffs ap­proved by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Un­for­tu­nately, since the fourth quar­ter of 2017, we have lo­cally ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant in­creased costs, up nearly 30 per­cent, re­lated to this im­ported newsprint. At cur­rent pric­ing, these tar­iffs will add nearly $500,000 an­nu­ally in added ex­pense to our busi­ness. Newsprint rep­re­sents the sec­ond largest ex­pense item be­hind em­ploy­ees for our busi­ness, re­sult­ing in sig­nif­i­cant de­creases to our bot­tom-line,” Fike wrote.

The U.S. Com­merce De­part­ment ap­proved the first of two pre­lim­i­nary tar­iffs in Jan­uary af­ter it re­ceived a com­plaint from a sin­gle Wash­ing­ton state pa­per mill, North Pa­cific Pa­per Co. (NORPAC), in 2017. That mill is one of only five re­main­ing Amer­i­can newsprint mills, in part be­cause de­mand for newsprint, also known as un­coated ground­wood pa­per, has dropped by 75 per­cent na­tion­wide since 2000.

Only af­ter NORPAC was pur­chased in 2016 by One Rock Cap­i­tal Part­ners, a New York-based pri­vate eq­uity firm, did it pe­ti­tion the gov­ern­ment for tar­iffs, claim­ing Cana­dian newsprint sup­pli­ers have an un­fair ad­van­tage due to gov­ern­men­tal sub­si­dies.

The Com­merce De­part­ment an­nounced Thurs­day that it would make the tar­iffs per­ma­nent, but would re­duce the rate. The tar­iffs could be re­jected by a three­vote ma­jor­ity of the fourmem­ber U.S. In­ter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion, an in­de­pen­dent fed­eral agency, at a sched­uled Aug. 28 hear­ing. A 2-2 tie would up­hold the tar­iffs.

Fike joined with dozens of other news­pa­per ex­ec­u­tives in per­son­ally lob­by­ing more than 60 sen­a­tors in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., last month, ask­ing them to voice their op­po­si­tion of the tar­iffs and their dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on the Amer­i­can news­pa­per in­dus­try. Just this week, U.S. Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told re­porters that he per­son­ally lob­bied U.S. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross to al­low the tem­po­rary tar­iffs to ex­pire.

“Ross seemed sym­pa­thetic, but you never know what’s go­ing on,” Schumer said, ac­cord­ing to the PostS­tan­dard in Syra­cuse, N.Y. “We can nip it in the bud if Com­merce says they’re not go­ing to have it. I’m go­ing to do ev­ery­thing I can to stop this counter-pro­duc­tive, jobkilling tar­iff.”

On Fri­day, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-MD.-1st, said he “hopes that when the Com­merce De­part­ment fi­nal­izes its de­ci­sion on Cana­dian newsprint tar­iffs next month, they take into ac­count the detri­men­tal ef­fect those tar­iffs have on our smaller, lo­cal news­pa­pers.”

Harris said he “hopes the pres­i­dent is will­ing to con­sider drop­ping all tar­iffs and trade bar­ri­ers if Canada drop theirs — as he has sug­gested to the Euro­pean Union re­cently. That would end any newsprint tar­iffs.”

In the mean­time, APG Me­dia has taken many steps to de­crease back of­fice ex­penses that are not so vis­i­ble to the pub­lic, Fike said in his an­nounce­ment.

“These steps helped, but un­for­tu­nately did not re­sult in the cost sav­ings needed to off­set these sub­stan­tial tar­iff ex­penses. We rec­og­nized that ad­di­tional dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions with our busi­ness model were needed,” he said, an­nounc­ing the cut of the Mon­day edi­tion.

Mean­while, the new Mon­day e-edi­tion, which will be avail­able to sub­scribers on

The Star Demo­crat’s web­site, star­dem.com, will fea­ture lo­cal news, comics and puz­zles.

The Star Demo­crat is not alone in feel­ing the ef­fects of the tar­iff in­creases. Its sis­ter pa­per, The Ce­cil Whig in Elk­ton, also is cut­ting its Mon­day edi­tion, leav­ing two printed edi­tions.

Na­tion­wide, other pa­pers, large and small, are choos­ing to shed print edi­tions, cit­ing the im­pact of the tar­iff hike. The Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette, Penn­syl­va­nia’s sec­ond largest news­pa­per by cir­cu­la­tion, re­cently an­nounced plans to drop two of its daily printed edi­tions in Au­gust.

The Grand Junc­tion Daily

Sen­tinel, the largest daily news­pa­per in western Colorado, is cut­ting its Mon­day and Tues­day print edi­tions out of its cur­rently daily cir­cu­la­tion start­ing in Au­gust.

Sierra Ne­vada Me­dia Group is cut­ting the Car­son City, N.V.,-based Ne­vada Ap­peal’s pub­lish­ing sched­ule from six days a week to two, while slash­ing sev­eral edi­tions out of three other pa­pers as well.

Other news­pa­pers have de­cided to make other changes to con­tend with the tar­iff hike. The Colum­bus Dis­patch, Ohio’s third largest news­pa­per, re­cently de­cided to dou­ble its news­stand rates and in­crease its sub­scrip­tion rates by a third, cit­ing the tar­iffs as the rea­son.

Mean­while, Paul Tash, chair­man and CEO of Florida’s largest news­pa­per, the

Tampa Bay Times, wrote in a re­cent ed­i­to­rial that the tar­iffs would add $3.5 mil­lion per year to his pa­per’s newsprint ex­penses if they are made per­ma­nent.

De­spite the un­de­sir­able ne­ces­sity of hav­ing to cut a printed edi­tion to con­tend with ris­ing costs, Fike noted that The Star Demo­crat re­mains com­mit­ted to cov­er­ing Tal­bot County and the Mid-Shore, pub­lish­ing on­line daily and work­ing to de­velop new dig­i­tal prod­ucts to bridge the print gap.

“Our staff re­mains com­mit­ted to our mis­sion and read­ers will be able to en­joy the con­tent on our var­i­ous dig­i­tal out­lets, www.star­dem. com or our Star­dem app,” Fike wrote. “While we will no longer have a print ver­sion on Mon­days, our staff will con­tinue to cover sto­ries in our com­mu­nity ev­ery day and post con­tent on our web­site and mo­bile app nu­mer­ous times each day. Print sub­scribers have ac­cess to our web­site and mo­bile app con­tents for free; non-print sub­scribers can be­come a dig­i­tal-only sub­scriber.

“Our ties to this com­mu­nity have been with nu­mer­ous gen­er­a­tions for well over 200 years, and this is not some­thing we take lightly,” Fike wrote. “We have been there to chron­i­cle each of your lives and the com­mu­nity we love. While this tar­iff in­crease on newsprint has forced us to make this dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion in our his­tory, it will not change our com­mit­ment to this com­mu­nity. We have been, and will be, com­mit­ted to be the voice of this com­mu­nity.”

An ex­am­ple of the front page of the new Mon­day e-edi­tion of The Star Demo­crat.

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