Notice Me

Friday, February 06, 2009


Local governments are obligated to inform the citizenry about new speed bumps, traffic lights, and even recycling schedules via legal notices published in the local paper. But in South Dakota and Arizona, cost-cutting legislators intend to put the notices online. The proposed bills would deprive papers of ad revenue but it would also be a loss for government transparency says Le Templar, opinion page editor of the East Valley Tribune.

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Comments [7]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

The New Haven Register is bemoaning the loss of revenue due to the city's apparent decision to publish legal notices on-line at the municipal website, though I have been interested to see our local on-line only newspaper, the New Haven Independent, publishing them. I am not at all sure they have monetized this or whether they are publishing them as a public service to widen the distribution of them.

My former boss and the previous editor at The Connecticut Elder, Eric Sandahl, always insisted that I read these notices since they contained a wealth of information about the financial dealing within our community.

Feb. 10 2009 01:11 AM
geo8rge from USA #1

The websites will be scoured for info by all sorts of interested parties. They will also be people who subscribe to be emailed. There will also be clipping services that parse the spew and send out taylored briefs.

People in foreclosure are victimized by this system as the only people who can bid on their properties are people who read the foreclosure ad. Publishing online would be much more fair to the owners that are losing their property.

But I agree, there are a fair number of local papers that are currently supported by this.

Feb. 09 2009 05:01 PM
Phil Millam from Winthrop, WA

I beg to differ from those who believe that legal notices published in newspapers serve any legitimate purpose. As a retired federal official, I approved hundreds of such notices costing tens of thousands of dollars, paid for by the taxpayer. Often when confronted about lack of notice by an angry crowd, we would defend ourselves by noting that the proposed government action had been published in the legal notices. We would be loudly booed for hiding behind the law, and for good reason: Nobody reads the bloody notices except paralegals. A better solution is to place an ad in the paper in plain English (or the appropriate language) that directs the interested public to a website or an information repository, usually the local library. That way everyone wins: the paper gets some revenue, the public has a better chance of seeing the notice, and the agency benefits from on informed citizenry. If the survival of newspapers depends on a government subsidy for requiring public notices nobody reads, our democracy is in big trouble.

Feb. 08 2009 10:05 PM
Lori Vriend from Lewsiville, Texas

I think that the government needs to be answerable to the public and the public needs to keep an eye on the government. Newspapers are a good resource for that. Government websites are a good ADDITIONAL resource for posting public notices.

I am disappointed in the unnecessary use of the phrase, "Where the h... ?" at the end of this piece. I expect higher standards from NPR. Be creative in your use of language, rather than sink to lower forms of communication.

Feb. 08 2009 08:51 PM
Ed Sharpe from Glendale AZ

Having it it print bu a un-connected party is part of the checks and ballances system!

Feb. 08 2009 05:30 PM
Dave de Neui from Tempe, AZ

I absolutely agree with the comments on your guest with regard to continuing the posting of legal notices has more lasting and traceable (and historic, as stated by the previous commenter) purposes than the internet could possibly provide.

However, what you did not point out in your story is the fact that the East Valley Tribune is in serious financial trouble right now. Within the last two months, it dropped from a daily that was sold in stores and delivered across the Phoenix suburbs of Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert (among others) to a free publication, printed fewer than seven issues per week, and offered only in small portions of Mesa.

Therefore, the editor's real motives may be called into question.

A different expert or editor from a more successful paper would have been more unbiased, or at least more seemingly so to those of us familiar with his publication.

Feb. 08 2009 03:41 PM
Gillian Rodger from Milwaukee, WI

It will be a huge loss to the future, and our ability to write history if legal notices disappear from newspapers. I have done research in Cincinnati on mid-19th century topics, and was unable to find any record of changes to city ordinances, except in the newspaper. City hall did not have a complete record (although they had scrapbooks of clipped newspaper notices), nor did they have a complete set of minutes. The only way to trace changes to the local laws was to plow through newspapers. A canny researcher, with some knowledge of local social conflicts, can find newspaper notices within a day or two of hunting, and they provide valuable building blocks for understanding and writing history. Losing these printed records would be as great a loss as the idiocy at the National Archive and its inability to archive electronic documents.

Feb. 07 2009 11:31 AM

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