The Newsprint Riddle
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 28 Mar 1935, p. 329-341


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The Newsprint Riddle


The newsprint industry and its importance to every person in the audience. Newsprint, next to wheat, as the chief commodity Canada has for sale to the world. Some dollar figures to illustrate the importance of the newsprint industry. Success even in the time of depression. Dollars from foreign customers. Comparisons with gold production and nickel exports. What the newsprint industry means in terms of employment. A definition of newsprint. The record of the newsprint industry, the course it has followed and the consequences of that course. A story of our own folly. History and background of the industry from 1925. The damage, beginning in 1926. The excess capacity today of more than 1,200,000 tons per year. An industry operating at 67 per cent capacity, a good average compared with other industry. The elements of continuing trouble. The method of making contracts and how it is a source of trouble peculiar to the newsprint industry. The competitive obsession for tonnage among 20 companies or more and the dangerous method of making contracts, resulting in a vulnerable position for the newsprint industry. An examination of the consequences, with statistics and dollar figures. Effects of price decline from a national point of view. The consequence of forest depletion, with figures. The position of the newsprint investor today, with illustration. Some conclusions and possible solutions for an industry of great potential, with great difficulties. A summary of three organized attempts at solutions between 1927 and 1933, each lasting about two years. Why these attempts failed. Some conclusions from these unsuccessful efforts. The speaker's belief that the price is uneconomic and ultimately dangerous to publisher as well as manufacturer. The need for a moderate increase and a long term policy of selling at the lowest possible price, consistent with proper provision for forest depletion, fair wages to labour, and a reasonable return upon actual investment. Thinking of newsprint as a world commodity in a world market. The need for some form of co-operation between government and industry. Finding a solution along sound business and financial lines rather than a governmental one. How consolidation can be accomplished. What can be done in the meantime to deal with the weaknesses of the industry. A concluding suggestion.