Banks, stock brokers and every service provider from cell phones to cable TV urge us to “go paperless.” Even news providers encourage us to “visit our website.”
All this got us to thinking about saving public money on legal ads–those notices about foreclosure of property, public auction sales, bankruptcies, and myriad other official notices full of small print posted in the local newspapers across the state and the nation.
The solution is obvious: Stop the press! Establish a central repository for legal ads, logically within the office of the Idaho Secretary of State. We are told Ada County Commish Rick Visser brought the idea before the Idaho Association of Counties, but the politicos were fearful of killing local newspapers which depend upon legal ad revenue. Ada County spent $42,000 during the 2017 fiscal year.
It makes no sense for local governments to prepare notices, upload them via a website to a newspaper that prints the notice. Far more people have internet access than subscribe to a newspaper.
Legal notices have to be published in the “newspaper of record.” To qualify for that official status, a paper must have a second class mailing permit and at least 25% editorial content. To get the permit the paper must have been published for at least a year. This rule has its roots with the beginning of the postal service. A printer named Ben Franklin needed a way to deliver his newspapers and the U.S. Postal service which he founded was the answer.
Its probably time to curtail the newspaper subsidy.
Airlines also were once subsidized by the Post Office. In fact, United Airlines can trace its roots to Boise and the first commercial airline license in 1926. Air mail carriers evolved into passenger carriers, thanks to postal subsidies. Today Fed-X carries most of the nation’s air mail rather than the airlines.
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