Newspapers Oppose Public Notices Bill

May 7, 2013

A bill that would allow towns and cities to publish full public notices online and not in newspapers is making its way through the legislature. Municipal advocates say it could save them money and is more efficient. The state's newspapers say it could threaten democracy.

The bill would allow towns and cities to publish only brief summaries of their public notices in newspapers, provided they post full copies of them online.  Advocates for towns and cities say it would save both paper and money -- and that online notices are more accessible than local papers. The bill also has the support of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. It says it balances the need to save money with the public's right to know. But a state analysis says the move would only bring minimal savings. And the Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association opposes the bill.  "If you're like most people, you see a public notice in your local newspaper." That's Rich Graziano, the publisher of the Hartford Courant, in an online editorial.   "By law, that's where they have to be posted.  But now, the general assembly is considering a bill that would change that.  It would let public notices move from newspapers to government controlled web sites." Graziano says the postings are already online at ctpublicnotices.org.  Changing the law, he says, would only do harm. "This won't help you find out what's going on in your community.  It isn't good for democracy, which depends on everyone's being informed." The bill has passed out of two legislative committees and is awaiting further action. For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.