3 Republican legislators vote to continue corporate subsidies to newspapers

by Rachel Alexander

I couldn’t believe what I watched yesterday. Three Republican legislators – who all hold themselves out as conservatives – voted in a committee hearing to continue granting print newspapers an exclusive monopoly on public notices. Reps Carl Seel, Jeff Dial, and Terri Proud all voted against HB 2403, which would have brought us into the modern era and permitted public notices to be posted on the internet instead of print newspapers, including on government websites, saving taxpayers lots of money and increasing transparency. Websites like Sonoran Alliance and my IC Arizona would be able to post public notices at a  more competitive cost.

I wrote an article fully explaining the depths of this problem here. I received this email today about it: “I work for a newspaper and you’re 100 percent right … but I can’t say anything. Not only does the public pay to put notices in the paper, the law requires purchasing the paper to get the notices. They get you coming and going.”

It may not be too late to revive this bill. Please contact the three Republican legislators who voted against it and express your disappointment. Kudos to the Republican legislators who supported it, Sen. Andy Biggs, Rep. David Stevens and Rep. Justin Pierce.

Carl Seel – cseel@azleg.gov 926-3018
Jeff Dial – jdial@azleg.gov 926-5550
Terri Proud – tproud@azleg.gov 926-3398


Comments

  1. I love the irony that allowing the government to post notices on its own websites somehow increases transparency. Have we lost our collective minds if we think that is the solution? Since when could we trust the government to hold itself accountable?

  2. What a specious argument. The newspapers simply republish what the government agencies give them to publish. They don’t check to make sure they’re “proper” public notices. As a matter of fact, the City of Prescott gets a discounted rate if the copy they hand over to the paper is “camera ready”. That’s basically cut’n’paste, folks.

    So, they’re not “holding the government accountable” they’re putting their hands out to take the government’s money.

  3. Veritas Vincit says

    Here’s a simple solution…. only require newspapers with a circulation of over 50,000 to go online. This allows the local rural newspapers and small town weeklies to continue with this important revenue stream. Won’t hurt the Cap Times because their subscription rate is lower than anyone wants to admit.

    Put a circulation or population served amendment on this bill and kick it back – do pass.

    • why should ANY business be allowed a government protected monopoly? That is just stupid

      this is 2012. whats next? bring back the horse and buggy industry?

    • I’d better qualify- I’m agreeing with Marty Smith, not the newspapers of over 50,000 idea.

      It’s a novel idea, but it won’t take care of the problem. First of all, these days, finding a newspaper with a 50,000 circulation might be tricky. Secondly, it’s still the newspapers in control.

      Finally, the newspapers say, and this is true, that they are putting their notices online already. However, they are doing so in such a clunky, antiquated way, it’s almost useless.

      We almost need to toss out the bathwater, baby and all, and build a whole new tub for the 21st century.

  4. I worked for a newspaper dependant on legal notices for years. No, not a locally owned small town local newspaper , but a newspaper group owned by a $10 Billion private equity fund . We lived in fear that the state politicians would one day wake up and realize that notices could be posted on line for free. So we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying to preserve the ridiculously antiquated laws mandating that public notices need to be published in print. Luckily, what I am seeing now is on line news services like this one are starting to advocate for what is right. Virginia’s House of Delegates this week voted overwhelmingly for two laws that if enacted will reduce the number of notices required to be published in print. Those bills still require State Senate approval and the Governor to sign. Let’s hope that Virginia will show the rest of the country how it should be done!

  5. “I received this email today about it: “I work for a newspaper and you’re 100 percent right … but I can’t say anything. Not only does the public pay to put notices in the paper, the law requires purchasing the paper to get the notices. They get you coming and going.”

    I’d love to see the header on that e-mail. Probably something like: arizonarepublicemployee@espressopundit.com. If that was a real e-mail, someone must really hate their job.

  6. “Websites like Sonoran Alliance and my IC Arizona would be able to post public notices at a more competitive cost” Sorry, but no you wouldn’t have. It would have been controlled to one governmental site- you would have lost out.

  7. Actually that’s not the full story Terri. An amendment was added to the bill at the very last minute that would have only included government websites as approved sites for posting public notices. Up until this amendment was added the night prior to the vote, the bill would have included sites like mine. Even if it had passed that way, it could have been broadened again later to add sites like mine, such as when it was being reconciled with the Senate version. The amendment was thrown in at the last minute to try and get people like you to support the bill just to get it out of committee, then it could be tweaked later.

  8. No matter what’s on a government website, the private sector can most likely make it better using real-world tools instead of clunky government-contract driven software. There are plenty of examples of publicly-available data mashed up into a tidy package, that folks pay attention to, or good money for. Heck, look at Drudge Report. No original content, just a few dozen of the most important links and no BS. No Flash, no animation, no subscriptions, no video (ahem, SA should take notice here).

    When people love your content, love=hits=ads=$$.

    • True Conservative says

      “No matter what’s on a government website, the private sector can most likely make it better using real-world tools instead of clunky government-contract driven software”

      My clients sell their software and information services to corporations and to government agencies, include most the municipalities in the Valley.

      It’s the same basic tool, same basic data going to both.

      The point: government and private sector use the same tools. It’s how they use them and why they use them that differ. Content Management Systems aren’t too exotic.

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