In the early 1920s, the press faced an existential challenge. Publishers proclaimed the death of news, not because nothing was happening, but because there was insufficient paper to print newspapers. While historians of the early modern period have long investigated material constraints on the spread of information, the problem of paper in Weimar Germany shows that the economics and politics of supply chains continued to shape cultural production in the twentieth century as well. Rationing during World War I subsequently became a crisis in the 1920s, when paper shortages, which had started as an issue of prices and supply chains, ballooned into a discussion about the role of the press in political and economic life, about the relationship between the federal states and the central government, and about the responsibility of a democratic government to ensure an independent press. Paper became a litmus test for the relationship between politicians and the press. The failure to resolve the crisis not only undermined the trust of publishers in Weimar institutions, but, this article argues, also enabled greater control by right-wing media empires. The public sphere, it turned out, had a very material basis.