Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Newspapers are still the best place for legal notices

So much of what newspapers do goes underappreciated by the general public. Perhaps at the top of that long list is publishing public notices.
Government agencies currently are required to publish legal notices for certain actions, such as annexations, passing ordinances, holding public hearings, holding elections, etc. For years, they’ve been required to publish legal notices in newspapers. States generally set the prices for these legal notices on a line-by-line basis, and the prices are the same in all newspapers.
Of course, newspapers receive revenue for these legal notices. Because of this, the public sometimes feels that newspapers defend the publication of legal notices as simply self-serving financially.
However, newspapers, more than any institution in this country, are the greatest defender of the public’s right to know, and I find many of the arguments defending newspaper legal notices as altruistic and pure.
All across the country, there are dozens of efforts to take legal notices out of newspapers and put them online instead. Yes, the free giveaway of news product online has damaged newspapers, cut their circulations and driven more people to get their news and information online. So, one might argue, let’s get with the times and post legal notices online, where it’s free and we can save taxpayer dollars.
First, every single government agency, from cemetery district to the EPA can post every document and legal notice online RIGHT NOW! Why don’t they? Because THEY DON’T HAVE TO! Legal notices force government agencies to tell the public what they’re up to.
You can read more reasons newspapers are still the best way to disseminate legal notices in this week's Kuna Melba News.

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