How Local Governments Communicate with the Public may Change with New Law
Advertising legal notices of meetings, bids, job openings and other information that the public sees in newspapers may soon stop. This developed as the Legislature is poised to allow local government to publish similar information in government websites.
Newspaper executives, as well as some government officials said they are worried the public might miss out public information for failure to find the information on the web.
Newspapers get tens of thousands of dollars annually from government contracts. However, the publisher of The Daily News, Rick Parrish, said that his primary concern is the access of the public to the information, oftentimes appearing in classified sections.
Parrish said, “Giving the public the information that the community at large has deemed important is still best done through the newspaper.” He also said, “We will be writing editorials and supporting the continuation of the existing policy.”
He, however, did not elaborate on how much money his newspaper makes from advertising contracts with the local government.
Claire Hauge, Cowlitz County Finance Director, said the county spent almost $47,000 in 2010 to advertise requests for proposals and bids, as well as job openings, in The Daily News.
The co-sponsor of the House Bill, Rep Dean Takko, a Democrat from Longview, said that advertising is expensive and the money intended for it could be used to provide other services.
The city of Seattle spends over $400,000 on ads and public notices, Takko observed. “Their contention is that four hundred and some thousand dollars would hire quite a few cops.”
Takko said, “It’s some big money that we spend on these things.” He also asked, “How many people actually go to these things and read them?”