Cross says the notices are an important part of the business side of journalism, while informing citizens and helping reporters find stories. They "encompass a wide range of important information," including government budgets, financial statements, audits, local ordinances, hearings, environmental permit applications, water-system reports and foreclosure sales, he writes. They are also "a necessary leg of the three-legged stool of open government, along with open-records and open-meetings laws." They are also a "significant source of revenue" for county-seat weekly newspapers, and cutting them would "lead to fewer jobs in journalism, and less journalism."
State newspaper associations are lobbying against the move, but have not always been successful, Cross writes, noting new laws in Ohio. They will likely be a greater target as governments face more pressure to make cuts, he writes. Reporters with no knowledge of how public notices work compounds the problem, he adds, noting that SPJ chapters should educate journalists about their importance and function and join newspapers in lobbying against elimination or reduction of them. (Read more)