Columbus Dispatch Raises Prices After Tariffs Spike Newspaper Costs

Jul 12, 2018

Buying The Columbus Dispatch at a newsstand will cost you double what it did last year. 

Newsstand prices have gone up from $1.50 to $3 for a weekday edition. The Sunday newspaper costs $5.00 if you buy it at a newsstand.

The Dispatch blames its recent price hikes for its newspaper on fewer print advertisements and new tariffs on newsprint imported from Canada. The U.S. Commerce Department added a 22 percent tariff on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper in March, saying it found evidence of dumping.

“That was more than a 20 percent increase on our costs, and we buy newsprint by the railcar load, and this is something that has added millions to the cost of producing a newspaper in a year,” says Editor Alan Miller.

The Dispatch isn't the only newspaper hurting from the Trump's administration's tariffs. In April, the Tampa Bay Times cut 50 jobs after warning in an editorial that higher newsprint costs would lead to a $3 million in losses. Gannett Co., which publishes USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer, said their operations would be "impacted significantly by changes in newspring prices."

Letters sent out in June to some subscribers announced a new monthly rate for daily and Sunday newspapers would cost $43.56. That price is up from about $32 a month.

Miller says the number of advertisers for the newspaper has dropped as the marketplace has changed.  More shoppers go online, so advertisers have followed.

“Now that the subsidy if you will has declined, that is one factor involved in asking those who really enjoy what we do, keeping them informed about what’s going on in their community, to pay a little more for it,” Miller says.

Miller says the amount of money lost from fewer advertisers is substantial, although he did not specify exactly how much.

About 120,000 Columbus area residents subscribe to the Dispatch on a daily basis. On Sunday, about 200,000 people receive the paper.

Miller says those numbers have declined in the past 10 years, although he did not provide the previous numbers. Miller says the newspaper had to raise subscription prices to keep up output.

“It’s pretty expensive to gather the news, paying a staff, printing the paper, posting it online, all of this is expensive,” Miller says.

Miller says that online readership has soared, and the Dispatch is selling more ads on their website. Dispatch.com offers a digital subscription for $7.99 a month.

“We have more readers now than we’ve ever had when you consider the online traffic to the stories and photographs and videos that we produce,” Miller says.

Three years ago, the Wolfe family sold The Columbus Dispatch to newspaper conglomerate Gatehouse Media, which also owns ThisWeekNews, the Akron Beacon Journal, and other newspapers around Ohio and the country. Miller says it is difficult to know whether the sale influenced any of today’s budget issues.

Nothing is easy in the newspaper business right now because of the financial pressures we talked about,” Miller says. “But we get a lot of support and I feel that all in all it’s been a good thing."