Letter to the editor: Public notices should be published in newspapers
Recently Ashley Bishop of Valley News Live Channel 11 did a story on printing public notices and other government information. The main message in her story was it cost too much and nobody buys a paper or reads the information. So therefore just put it out electronically and forget the papers. So I did a little research on my own about the importance of public notices.
First and foremost, the public has a right to know and an opportunity to read about the public meetings and other important public information. When everything is driven around cost and not the public’s right to know, bad things happen. By using the print method citizens are given the opportunity to monitor our government through an independent source of information. In addition, most newspapers that also have an electronic version place this information on their website for review. So not only is it in print but the newspaper industry does provide this information on a second source for no additional cost.
Research recently conducted by Newton Marketing and Research of Norman, Oklahoma, shows that 83 percent of adult North Dakotans read a local newspaper at least once a week. That research broke down to 73 percent of those being ages 18-34; 81.5 percent of those are ages 35-54 and 90 percent of those 55 and older. I believe that those are very strong numbers and would not be matched by an electronic version only. The study also pointed out that those who responded answered that newspapers are the most trusted source of local news and information. In my opinion, newspapers provide a very good source for that information.
The argument is that the web is cheaper, but is it really? Isn’t the public’s right to know above the cost issue? Over and over, voters have chosen print as the preferred method to receive public notices. In this day of blogs and other half-truth sources of information on the Web this method may put doubt in what is provided. Is this good for everyone? I do not believe it is in our best interests.
Finally, this print method provides a permanent and historical record of what your government is doing. That will not be the case in an electronic version-only method of public notices.
(Frye is mayor of Carrington)