will take four months off, because NYT Sunday Magazine did the same in late 1918

Earlier this month, I noticed that the New York Times issues 100 years ago to the week no longer seemed to include a Sunday magazine section. Since the whole premise of this website is to analyze those magazine articles with some historical context and/or contemporary commentary, this presented a problem for me and my readers.

Skipping ahead in the archive, I discovered the answer in the Sunday, January 3, 1919 issue: the magazine section had ceased for four months due to a lack of paper as a result of wartime shortages.

A somewhat-similar situation occurred just a few weeks ago; though it did not involve shortages or war, it did involve an issue with newsprint that proved potentially existential to the newspaper coverage.

The Trump Administration’s Commerce Department announced intended tariffs on Canadian newsprint, the main source of paper for American newspapers — including state and local publications. Some newspapers with the narrowest profit margins even felt such tariffs could put their publications out of business. However, a unanimous 5-0 decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission halted the proposed tariffs in August.

Here is the full January 1919 retroactive announcement, in an article titled The Sunday Magazine Again.

When the conditions of war limited the supply of newsprint paper at the end of last Summer, The New York Times met the situation by a reduction of consumption. Among the changes found necessary was the suspension of the Sunday Magazine Section on Sept. 1.

While that part of the Sunday edition had won a high place in the esteem of our readers, especially in the period during which it had been printed and illustrated by the decorative rotogravure process, it had to give way temporarily; the wartime allowance of paper was not sufficient for the urgent news of the day and the full quota of the Sunday special features at the same time.

The paper scarcity has been relieved with the ending of the war conditions, and after a lapse of four months the Magazine Section will reappear next Sunday.

The Sunday Magazine Again

Published: Sunday, January 3, 1919

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