Newspapers provide best option for notices

Mar. 10, 2013 @ 05:59 AM

For years newspapers have been the long-standing source for the public to find notices from its government entities.

Newspapers have become the first place the people look to find various notices ranging from foreclosures to project bids.

Now, a bill generated in the North Carolina Senate (SB 186) is geared to take those notices out of the newspapers' hands and place them on the Internet.

We suggest there are fundamental issues with removing those notices from the open eye of the public as well as the newspapers that have a mission to oversee exactly what the government is doing.

The argument is made that moving these public notices will cost government entities less money. Quite simply, that is not the case. In fact, it will cost local governments much more to maintain a site that is secure.

These notices have to be handled in an error-free manner and posted for the proper amount of time. Verification procedures must be in place and affidavits may need to be provided in some cases. Moving this procedure into government hands is costly both in dollars and staff time. These are services that newspapers, including The Daily Courier, now provide to public notice customers.

Then there is the question of accessibility.

Newspapers are far more accessible than computers. There is the assumption that every household has a computer and that is just not the case. Newspapers remain an inexpensive way for the public to gain access to these public notices.

Let's keep in mind that not everyone in Rutherford County has easy access to the Internet but everyone has access to the newspaper.

Newspapers have a much larger mass media reach that just a government website. If we combine the reach of the newspaper as well as digital products, such as a newspaper website, the reach is exponentially greater with a newspaper.

Initially, lawmakers created a law requiring newspapers be the outlet for these public notices to prevent back-room behavior by keeping business practices in the sunshine and under the watchful eye of the public, which pays the government's bills.

If a government entity mishandles these public notices lawsuits are sure to follow and, for smaller governments that is an unfunded mandate that carries a huge liability for government employees and local residents.

We have to ask the question: Who will monitor these public notices to assure they comply with the law and police them if they don't? Simply, history has shown that the government cannot police itself.

Newspapers like The Daily Courier already place these public notices in the newspaper and on its website daily. They are there for public consumption, which was the intent of law. We don't charge any extra fees for placing these public notices on our website.

The facts are that newspapers can provide a broader audience and checks and balances for accuracy for the publication of public notices.

The adage goes "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

That certainly applies in this case.

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