More pressure on the Fourth Estate

Keep community journalism alive by opposing the Trump administration’s newsprint tariffs

Last week, the CN&R received a plaque inscribed with the our first- and second-place wins in the 2017 California Journalism Awards, the annual contest put on by the California News Publishers Association.

The competition is stiff, since we go head-to-head with the big metro weeklies, but this scrappy little publication still manages to fare well. We took home an even 10 awards in a range of categories, from layout and design to investigative reporting.

Like most folks in the journalism world, we celebrate a bit when we get the results and then promptly move on to the task at hand—putting out the next issue, and then the next one, and so on and so forth. The goal: to inform and engage our region and ultimately make it a better place to live.

Also, like most folks in the journalism world, especially those at community papers in small towns throughout the nation, we face the challenge of staying afloat in the digital era. Many newspapers have been forced to make steep adjustments to streamline operations. Compared with other outlets, the CN&R’s changes have been less dramatic and occurred over a fairly long period.

Quite frankly, we’ve been fortunate. We’ve seen other community newspapers gutted, some disappear entirely. The San Francisco Bay Guardian: folded in 2014. Baltimore’s City Paper: closed as of 2017. We could go on. We’ve watched corporate-owned publications merge with others in the chain, sometimes under a new name. Here in Chico, the hedge-fund-owned Chico Enterprise-Record may have a different masthead than the Oroville Mercury Register, but the publications are essentially the same and operate out of the Chico office. Bottom line: Newspapers are fighting tooth and nail to stay viable.

And now, the E-R, Mercury Register and the CN&R—in fact, newspapers coast to coast—share a new threat.

Back in January, President Trump placed a series of tariffs on Canadian groundwood paper imports, the industry standard newsprint. Operating costs have spiked as a result, forcing already struggling newsrooms to cut pages and reduce staffing. The move by the White House, stemming from a single Washington State-based paper plant’s complaint, is widely opposed. Chambers of commerce and federal representatives on both sides of the political aisle have joined industry organizations representing the thousands of publications attempting to stop the new tax.

They see what the Trump administration does not: the loss of jobs in and further deterioration of an industry that is vital to American democracy. Indeed, imagine Chico without its newspapers. Readers of both publications can help by signing the petition at and, of course, supporting local journalism.