The NPR and WBUR program "Here and Now" has an interview with the publisher of the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Colo., Jay Seaton, explaining why his newspaper is retreating to publishing in print five days a week instead of seven.
Part of the issue, Mr. Seaton said, was increased paper prices related to President Trump's tariffs on imported newsprint.
Another problem, he said, was statewide minimum wage legislation that imposed the same uniform minimum wage in Grand Junction as in more urban, high-cost Denver. The minimum wage in Colorado is now $10.20 an hour, and it will increase to $12 an hour in 2020.
Mr. Seaton wrote in explaining to readers his decision to eliminate the Monday and Tuesday printed editions of the paper: "Despite our best efforts to reduce expenses over the past few years, the economic tide of increased minimum wage, double-digit increases in government-mandated health insurance and the rising cost of just about everything else has been rough. But the explosion of the price for paper — our second-biggest expense — has been devastating."
Jack Shafer had a classic 2005 Slate column headlined, "If a publisher moans about rising newsprint costs, slap him." Slate, though, is primarily an online publication, so it doesn't need to worry about newsprint costs. Columbia Journalism Review helpfully notes that "In 2015, the Obama administration put tariffs on the higher-quality paper used by many American magazines."
There are financial products that exist or that can be created that allow companies to insure against these sorts of risks. Airlines, for example, reportedly hedge their fuel costs. Bankers and derivatives traders often get knocked as financial engineers, but allowing a business to protect against sudden, steep price increases in a necessary ingredient can be a useful service. Some businesses are able to pass along such price increases to their customers, but some can't.