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Public Policy/Postal

Public Notice

Three-legged stool

Public notices in newspapers are part of the three-legged stool of government accountability. Public notices help to inform the public on activities by the government and other public entities. Public notices have been included in newspapers from the beginning of the Republic. Now they are also on many newspapers’ websites.

A valid public notice should have four key elements:

  • It should be published in a medium independent of the government or other entity compelled to provide notice. 
  • It should be verifiable so that citizens can satisfy themselves that notice was properly given. An affidavit from the newspaper attesting to the type and date of publication is the typical verification, and these are often used in litigation to demonstrate that due process requirements were met.
  • It should be archivable so that future generations can retrieve it.
  • It should be accessible to a broad range of people. Surveys demonstrate that a wide majority of citizens believe public notices should be in newspapers.

Top issues

Public financial reporting
HR 2727, introduced by Rep. Walter Jones, R-NC, will reinstate public financial reporting through newspaper public notice. The bill would require the Treasury Department to create new regulations defining the information that must be disclosed.

Public notice resources

American Traditions
This popular booklet on the background and purposes of public notice is about to enter its third edition. Stay tuned for updates.
Public Notice Resource Center
National Newspaper Association is a proud founding member of the Public Notice Resource Center, which informs and educates the public on the value of notices in newspapers. NNA members have privileged access to all materials on the Public Notice Resource Center website. A subscribers-only page may be accessed by NNA members.
Read the paper from back to front: public notices are news!
The public notices in most newspapers appear in the classified section. In some states, that is because state law considers them classified ads. In others, it's simply tradition. They've been there for all of our lives. Lewis and Clark used public notices. Most state constitutions were drawn up with the help of public notices.
Three-legged stool can’t stand on only two
You’re probably already wondering what a three-legged stool has to do with the newspaper business. Open government is a three-legged stool.
Public notice promotion ads available from NNA
Ads created by the Public Notice Resource Center for National Newspaper Week are available for NNA members to download. The ads are for you to help promote and preserve the important role of newspapers in public notice by demonstrating the utility of public notice to your readers.

Public notice news

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Newspapers DEAD? Print still big medium for advertisers

11/02/2009
If I’m to believe the national media, newspapers are dead or dying. What do they base that on? Paid circulation is down? How’s that different from broadcast TV viewership? Or magazine subscriptions? Or radio listeners?

Annual readership study shows good news for small papers

10/06/2009
Did you know that 80 percent of America’s newspapers have a circulation of 15,000 or less?

86 percent of adults (18-years-old or older) read america's community newspapers weekly

11/07/2008
Just when Americans find themselves drawn to news reports from a contentious presidential election and deflating economic challenges, new research from the National Newspaper Association (NNA) again demonstrates that Main Street America relies upon community newspapers to inform and empower citizens from coast to coast.

America's community newspapers build vibrant connection between readers, advertisers

11/07/2008
Strong communities are all about strong relationships and connections. Nothing facilitates those relationships and connections like America's community newspapers. In cities and towns served by a community newspaper of 25,000 circulation or less, 86 percent of the population read a community newspaper each week. No other media has that kind of reach into and throughout those communities.

New NNA member benefits get you on the right road

05/28/2008
Have you booked your hotel and travel yet for the National Newspaper Association’s Annual Convention and Trade Show Sept. 25-28 in St. Paul, MN? Now that school’s out and graduation ceremonies are behind you, are you thinking about slipping away for a brief family summer vacation? NNA can help.

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