Along with open meeting and freedom of information laws, public notice is an essential element of the

Three-legged Stool of Government Transparency.



Newspapers

remain the primary vehicle for public notice in

all 50 states.


This is not about "newspapers vs the internet".

It's newspapers and newspaper websites vs government websites

AND newspaper websites have a much larger audience. Moving notice from newspapers to government websites would

reduce the presence of public notices on the internet.

Since the first U.S. Congress, public officials have understood that newspapers are the best medium to notify the public about official matters because they contain the

essential elements of public notice:

Accessibility

Independence

Verifiability

Achievability

Publishing notices on the internet is neither cheap nor free.

 


Newsprint is inherently superior to the internet for public notice

because reading a newspaper is a serendipitous process.

We find things in newspapers we weren't expecting to see. On the internet, we search for specific information and ignore everything else.


Moreover, the real

digital divide for public notice is growing

due to the massive migration to smartphones and other small-screen digital devices.


Significant numbers of people in rural areas still lack high-speed internet access.

Those who are older than 65 or who have lower incomes or lack high-school diplomas are also cut off from the internet in far higher numbers than the average.

Citizens continue to learn about vital civic matters from

newspaper notices.

Documented examples of people taking action and alerting their community after reading a newspaper notice are reported on a regular basis.

 

 


Requiring independent, third-party newspapers to ensure that public notices run in accordance with the law helps

prevent government officials from hiding information

they would prefer the public not to see.


Governments aren't very good at publishing information on the internet.

Unlike newspaper publishers,

public officials aren't compelled by the free market to operate effective websites.

Verifying publication is difficult-to ­impossible on the web.

That's why the courts subject digital evidence to far greater scrutiny than evidence published in newspapers.


Editor’s Note: Reprinted with permission from the Public Notice Resource Center that works to promote effective public notice and to educate the public about its right to know. The PNRC website is at https://www.pnrc.net