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Friday, March 18, 2011

Paying to be in the news

Some people think that the taxpayers of of the state should be forced by law to pay keeping the traditional dead wood papers alive and printing the news that legislators see fit.

Sound crazy? I know, but that is the state of affairs with antiquated laws requiring the public notices to be in the pay papers.

The media world is in the middle of that venues shift as I type this.

Traditional dead wood papers had their place in their time. It was about the only source or venue for information in its day. Almost everyone read the papers to get information.

But that day is passing.

I do not think traditional reporting will disappear if the dead wood edition of a paper goes away. Quality reporting on the facts and issues of the day will always draw a market for those who want information, but it will change venues. To think that the dead wood edition of newspapers in going anywhere but into a virtual dust bin of extinction is just laughable. Dead wood papers large and small across the nation are collapsing day after day as they come up against the Internet.

"Public notices" have stoped being news and have become a government subsidy to a non market. Less the 25% of Tennesseans are still willing to have to pay to get their news from the deadwoods. Of that 25% I would estimate @2% of those actually read the public notices. Of that 2% (of the 25%) I expect that at least 80% of those read the notices for business reasons and would look it up on line if it were the only place it was available. All worked out that is about .01% of the population reads the public notices for fun or general education.

Conversely 75% of Tennesseans have access to the free Internet. Just like with blogs, those with something of interest to say will have people drawn to their site. Those with nothing of interest will get no market share.

If public notices are so important and interesting to the public, nothing would stop a local paper from publishing public notices on their own for free in their dead wood edition or their on line version. In fact, if so many people are drawn to public notices I would encourage it. In fact, print them on the front page of their papers so their paying readers could see and get what they want right away. But the millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies needs to stop.

America is built on the free market and personal responsibility. The government can try and force people to read something that they have little to no interest in and even force other taxpayers to pay for it. But just like the candle makers and buggy whip makers of old, the taxpayers can curse the darkness, stay at home forcing others to prop the products of the past now that the light bulb and automobile have come into being or they can start thinking about electrifying their house and getting new transportation if they want to see at night or go somewhere.


  1. Yes, but when the 'free' internet is no longer 'free', then where will the notices be posted. How do you suppose notifications of 'This is where to get your news' will get out? I live in a rural area without a television station that coverage, and internet access isn't guaranteed. Until you can can rest that all areas of the outlieing counties are covered by inexpensive internet (plus the subscription fee to the news sources) then maybe we should not actively go after out news...

  2. Well the 5 papers that publish most of the public notices are not free either. Nor do they deliver or cover most areas.

  3. Agreed, however in areas such as Dickson, I wouldn't have to purchase both an ISP and a subscription.

  4. What about an amendment establishing the requirement that every TN State "Public" Library, either receiving State funds or State & Local tax preferences, tax exemptions or subsidies be required to maintain all State & Local government State-wide public notices, as a weekly printed record available to the public for the previous 2 years, as a condition of their Charter? All notices including those older than 2 years would be maintained at a State central web site available to the public access but formatted for easily printable weekly output reports for Libraries ?


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