Our View: A victory for the public

Apr. 21, 2013 @ 08:57 AM

A battle over public notices in newspapers has come to an end.

Unfortunately, that battle ended across the state line in Tennessee.

Late last week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed legislation proposed by the Tennessee Press Association (TPA) that requires all public notices printed in newspapers to be published on the newspapers' local website and a statewide aggregate website maintained by the TPA.

The bill allows for no extra charge to government entities for the publishing of notices on websites.

Similar to the battle currently underway in North Carolina, the bill was a compromise in response to proposals that move public notices out of newspapers and to government websites exclusively.

TPA President Michael Williams said that he hopes the signing of the bill will stop attacks on public notices in Tennessee.

"Newspapers are in the mass communication business. Government is not," Williams said in a press release. "No other communication medium provides wider distribution of public notices than community newspapers and their websites."

A like compromise bill has been filed, on behalf of the North Carolina Press Association, in the North Carolina House.

What Williams said after the Tennessee bill was signed is no different that what has been repeated in newspapers across North Carolina — including The Daily Courier.

The battle in North Carolina took a dangerous turn when a member of the North Carolina Senate, during a hearing on a bill to exclude eight counties and the municipalities therein from publishing notices in the newspaper, told a publisher "I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet."

Tennessee lawmakers passed the compromise measure by a combined 125-2.

We expect lawmakers in North Carolina to follow the example of our neighbors to the west and keep government business in the eyes of the public.

By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board

 

The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark