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Osakis Review Editorial: Douglas County is considering bad idea

The Douglas County Board was scheduled to consider a resolution yesterday that should keenly interest readers. It supports legislation allowing counties to publish public notices on their websites instead of in newspapers.

It’s a bad idea – and not one that would just hurt newspapers but any citizen who sees the value of publishing important information in a medium that’s independent of government.

Right now, county public notices are being printed in newspapers, and on their websites, which is free of any government finagling or after-the-fact adjusting.

Some claim that taking public notices out of newspapers will save money but local governments have never substantiated this. Money spent on putting public notices in papers is a very small percentage of a local government’s budget. And the expense of designing, operating, properly maintaining and updating a website is significant, if done right.

Remember too, that many low income and senior citizens do not have ready access to the Internet. Public notices in newspapers are the permanent record of what a public body intends to do. There is no archival history to government websites as there is with newspapers.

Years from now, any citizen could go to a newspaper and read exactly what a public notice said. Do we really want government to have sole responsibility and control over the dissemination of its own notices? No. Contact your commissioner and your state legislators and tell them you want to read public notices where they belong – in your hometown newspaper.