Trump’s newsprint tariffs force not-so-funny decision

For the most part, we have kept our head down in the Donald Trump crossfire that consumes this country. It’s not that we don’t have an opinion on the nation’s 45th president; everyone does, and we are included. It’s more that we don’t know that we can add to the conversation in a meaningful way when no one seems in a mood to have their mind changed.

Besides, our plate is always overflowing trying to expose the local corruption that has this county in reverse at high speed. We try to keep our eye on that ball.

But today with Trump, it’s personal, so we will go there.

Readers of this newspaper who are fans of the Sunday color comics were frustrated this morning when they couldn’t find them. A short story today explains — but cryptically. This newspaper has made the difficult decision to drop the Sunday comics, a decision that we really believe was made at the White House.

We have traveled this road before — and it was bumpy, with readers vocal in their disapproval, a sentiment we prefer to indifference. We are sure we will hear more protests as this news spreads.

But the last time we dropped Sunday comics, done under other ownership, it was more a money grab than a survival strategy. This time we simply can’t continue to absorb a rising expense.

One of the targets in Trump’s Tariffs War has been newsprint from Canada, the cost of which has risen about 30 percent since the beginning of this year. The tariffs are protecting a single Washington plant that apparently can’t otherwise effectively compete, but is being shielded by the president from the free market — a decidedly unRepublican approach and contrary to the capitalistic fundamentals that have given us the world’s No. 1 economy and nourishes it.

Newsprint, unsurprisingly, is a major expense for any newspaper — and its rising cost is just one of the many obstacles faced by the industry, which is why few days pass without more news of newspapers reducing staff or locking the doors. Last week it was the venerable New York Post that began the day one thing and ended it something much less.

The cost of newsprint is one of many challenges facing the industry today, and others include the way people consume their news, more and more through the internet and social media where truth hardly matters.

Imagine, if you will, that The Robesonian didn’t exist — and the public was left to gather on their own the news that matters, ranging from some of our county commissioners using your tax dollars to their benefit, to the delightful news of what is occurring at Northeast Park and all that is in between. For more and more communities, that is becoming the reality — the watchdog is no more.

Our intent today is not to sound a false alarm. The Robesonian, despite the many challenges and difficult decisions, including today’s, is a healthy newspaper, fortunate to have loyal readers of both the print edition and robesonian.com as well as faithful advertisers. We could use more of both — and if you appreciate our efforts to fight the corruption, but don’t support us financially, consider this a call to do so.

Like all newspapers, we have been asked to do more with less, and in recent years we have been nimble in figuring out how best to use our dwindling resources. Disappointingly, we could not dance around this decision, which we would like to think is temporary.

But for Sunday comics to return, something has to break to our benefit — additional readers and advertisers, or a change of heart at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Of those two, we know which is more likely.