Paul Boyle is Senior Vice President, Public Policy at the News Media Alliance. In his role, Paul lobbies policy makers on behalf of the news industry to advance the Alliance’s position on business and newsgathering issues. In 2017-18, Paul spearheaded a major advocacy effort by the Alliance to reverse unwarranted tariffs on imports of Canadian newsprint, which were very harmful to newspaper publishers. The reversal of the tariffs was a huge win for the industry.
As one of the Alliance’s longest-running staff members, Paul talks here about the biggest issues affecting the news industry now and in the future.
What brought you to the News Media Alliance?
I’ve actually been with the association for 30 years. While I have seen a lot of change in the industry and at the Alliance, what drives me is working on something meaningful – making a difference. I think what we do at the Alliance is really important; we work to support the business of journalism and – by doing so – we are not only supporting the community, but our nation’s democracy.
What are you working on to help the news industry?
I’m working on several issues right now: 1) resisting federal regulation that would limit the ability of newspapers to recruit and retain subscribers through automatic renewal programs 2) working to get pension relief across the finish line, which would help family-owned or -controlled newspaper companies and 3) advocating for the passage of the “Fallen Journalist Memorial Act of 2019,” which would provide authorization for a memorial in Washington, DC that would honor journalists who, in the course of doing their jobs, gave the ultimate sacrifice to report the news.
How did it feel to finally win the battle on newsprint tariffs last summer, and how have the tariffs affected local news publishers in the long-term?
When we started our campaign, our trade counsel advised us that there was less than a 30 percent chance that we would convince the International Trade Commission (ITC) to reverse the tariffs. So, when the ITC voted 5-0 to reverse the tariffs, I was in shock and then completely euphoric – and jumped on email and the phone to alert publishers in our industry for whom, without their support, we would not have achieved this win.
Canadian newsprint producers assessed premiums on publishers to cover the government’s tariffs on newsprint. This had a long-term impact on publishers, some of whom cut back on days of distribution as a result. But the premiums were removed the day the ITC reversed the tariffs, and without this reversal, publishers would have had to pay premiums for at least five years. In addition to the elimination of the premiums, we started seeing newsprint prices drop in early spring, not only as a result of the elimination of the tariffs, but also supply and demand issues in the marketplace.
What is the most promising opportunity for news publishers in 2019?
Over the last years, working with the Alliance, newspapers have taken steps collectively to fight for their interests – be it fighting to reverse newsprint tariffs or demanding a new licensing structure for our content distributed by other businesses. We are more experienced in collaborating now than ever before. If we are going to survive and thrive, we need to continue with this collective approach in fighting for the sustainability of high-quality, original journalism.
What are you most excited about in your role at the Alliance for the upcoming year?
We are more relevant today than ever before. We are a known entity on Capitol Hill. We are a non-partisan organization with member newspapers in every district and, as a result, we have received support from both Republicans and Democrats. Members of Congress have increasingly expressed the importance of the news media and journalism for their constituents and our society. As we head towards the presidential and congressional elections in 2020, I think there’s a lot we can build upon.