Monday, October 06, 2008

This is National Newspaper Week

For most newspapers, National Newspaper Week has been a ho-hum activity, often if not usually ignored. Now, with the future of newspapers in doubt, the annual observance has never been more relevant.

The theme this year is somewhat narrow, but still important: the need for paid publication of legal notices in print, as opposed to free and online. Materials such as house ads, logos, editorial columns and cartoons, as well as a crossword puzzle, are available to all newspapers here on the Kentucky Press Association Web site.

Here's an excerpt from an editorial by Donnis Baggett, editor-in-chief of The Bryan College Station Eagle, titled “Public Notice: Taxpayers have a right to know”: "Most newspaper Web sites are the stars of the online market in their respective communities. Almost without exception, newspaper Web sites have more traffic than any other local or regional sites. Any “notice” that is posted independently online by a governmental entity or a vendor is likely to be read only by those who have a vested interest and are searching for notices of that sort. A published newspaper notice, on the other hand, is right there in black and white for anyone who reads the classified ads ... and, in most cases, online as well."

The other editorial also comes from Texas, and Bob Buckel of The Azle News, an excellent weekly. He writes: "Public notice should be out there for everyone to browse, notice and read. It should be available to all. Anything that takes away control from the people — anything that pulls an item off the smorgasbord of information — is something we should resist. We encourage newspapers to fly the flag for public notice, but also to remind readers of the societal value of a local newspaper, something the writers of the Bill of Rights had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment." (This item is repeated from Sept. 16.)

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