Tampa Bay Times to lay off dozens of staff in response to Trump tariffs

Tampa Bay Times to lay off dozens of staff in response to Trump tariffs
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The Tampa Bay Times announced that it would cut about 50 jobs after new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration dramatically increased the cost of newsprint.

A spokeswoman for the Times confirmed the layoffs to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, saying they are directly in response to the tariffs imposed on newsprint imported from Canada.

The Times spokeswoman declined to say how many of the layoffs would be within the paper’s newsroom, but said that the "cuts are taking place throughout the organization."

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The Tampa Bay Times has faced significant financial struggles over the past few years in the face of declining print advertising revenues and increasing online readership, according to the Journal.

The paper bought and closed rival paper Tampa Tribune in 2016 and announced a round of layoffs after the purchase. The size of the newsroom was halved between 2006 and 2015.

The publication has also sold off some properties in recent years, including its flagship building in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Times got a $12 million loan from local investors in 2017, along with a $20 million secured credit facility, including a line of credit and two loans, the Journal reported.

Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of the Times, warned in a column last month that the tariffs would add about $3 million in newsprint costs and could lead to layoffs.

“This month, the U.S. government piled huge tariffs onto the imports of newsprint from Canada, including those from our biggest supplier. As a result, the price will jump from $600 to $800 for every ton, and we use about 17,000 tons every year,” Tash wrote.

The Trump administration imposed the tariffs on newsprint from Canada in January, but increased them in March.

The trade move was in direct response from a complaint by a paper producer in Washington, who argued that Canadian publishers were using government subsidies to sell papers at lower prices, according to The Associated Press.

American newspaper publishers and owners warned at the time that the tariffs would hurt U.S. newspapers and lead to job cuts.

Updated at 10:32 a.m.