Dropping Type – Newspaper Hits Keep Coming

Loss of advertising, loss of readers, loss of jobs. What else?

Wood pulp prices increased in January 2021 with further increases announced for March.

The price of pulp paper (and ink) will continue to rise.

Periodic and moderate changes in the prices of raw materials are expected in the normal course of doing business. Year-long, global pandemics having long-lasting effects on the production and procurement of those materials are not. The pandemic has caused dramatic shifts in operating patterns within the paper industry, which have resulted in fluctuations in pulp and paper supply and demand, and recurring price increases.

From Specialty Print Communications:

In 2020, paper mill inventories were inflated as unsold paper was warehoused. As of early 2021, paper stockpiles have been depleted to historically low inventory levels as demand begins to rebound. To meet current demand, coated paper mill operating rates are over capacity with the traditionally stronger spring direct mail season looming. With demand greater than capacity, the mills have the upper hand in pricing leverage. Supply and demand issues are compounded by a rapid and significant increase in wood pulp prices, as well as in mill costs, national load-to-truck ratios, and freight costs.

Charts from YCharts.


Elsewhere in the world of journalism…

From Nieman Lab:

Women journalists and journalists of color aren’t paid as well as their white male counterparts in 14 Gannett newsrooms, and journalists in unionized newsrooms are paid better than those in non-unionized shops, according to a pay equity report published by NewsGuild Gannett Caucus on Tuesday.

Its analysis found that employees of color earned a median salary of $5,246 less than white employees, a 10% pay gap. Women of color earned a median salary of $15,727 less than white men, a 27% pay gap.

Gannett dissents:

Gannett’s Chief People Officer Samantha Howland disputed the union’s findings on Monday evening in a company-wide email shared with Nieman Lab, saying that the report was “a misleading document based on outdated data alleging pay inequities on a small subset of Gannett’s more than 250 newsrooms.”

From Poynter:

A team of six volunteers put together the study, which was released Tuesday and includes data for roughly 450 employees from fall 2020. Newsrooms that participated in the study include The Arizona Republic, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Indianapolis Star. Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, owns more than 260 newsrooms, 41 of which are unionized.

Because I’ve spent most of my life as a Union Man:

The study found that newsrooms with union contracts had smaller pay gaps than those that are still in negotiations. Among newsrooms with union contracts, the gender pay gap was $7,676, roughly half the pay gap among newsrooms without such contracts, which was $14,522. Similarly, the racial pay gap was $837 in newsrooms with union contracts, compared to $6,280 in newsrooms that are still in negotiations.

Gannett objects:

Gannett disputes the union’s findings of pay inequities, company spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton wrote in an emailed statement.

“Gannett is a leader in the industry. Our market-driven approach to compensation ensures a fair review by role and responsibility level with considerations for geographic differences.”


And then there’s this.

When you’re a kid, you love the comics. A few years later, you read the sports or the style section first. As you age and mature, browsing the “A” section every morning becomes routine, as it becomes more pressing to learn the vital news that orients the world. Soon thereafter, reading favorite columnists on the op-ed page becomes habitual. Then, once you’ve ripened to a certain age and mortality’s horizon draws near, you check the obituaries first.

I found myself pondering the classic progression in newspaper readership after I learned The New York Times would be discontinuing my favorite newspaper feature: the op-ed. Henceforth, opinion pieces submitted by outsiders will be known as “guest essays.” I heard of its demise shortly before it became public, because I once researched and published a brief history of the feature, and the Times‘s editorial page editor, Kathleen Kingsbury, was kind enough to notify me of its demise. Employees at the Times had used my scholarship for historical context as they deliberated the feature’s future.

Michael J. Socolow, at Reason, writes an Elegy for the Op-Ed.

The Times‘s op-ed page was the product of cacophonous times. Born on September 21, 1970, it attempted to render the bitter divisions of the 1960s in text and image on newsprint. It emerged during an era of remarkable innovation and experimentation in U.S. media.

Kingsbury’s announcement specifies that the new version of the opinion page would henceforth carefully vet future “guest essays” with an eye toward “progress, fairness and shared humanity.” Publishing offensive commentary these days is not simply seen as inflammatory in the old sense; many people consider it intentionally malicious, if not felonious. Any denial to the contrary—any defense of the old-fashioned marketplace of ideas, or calls for widening diversity of opinion—is widely viewed as little more than disingenuous subterfuge.

As they say: the editorial cartoonists are the canaries in the coal mine.
Two years ago The Times got rid of ed-op cartoons, now they chuck the editorial columnists.