ABOUT THE TOWN: Public notice in newspapers

Mar 1, 2024

Verifying publication is difficult to impossible on the web. This is a reason why the courts subject digital evidence to a far greater scrutiny than what’s published in newspapers.

Publisher Emeritus | Press Publications, White Bear Lake, Minnesota

I think it is very important that public notice remain in newspapers, and I don’t mean that to be self-serving in any way. Let me give you a better understanding of where I’m coming from.

We need to think of it as a three-legged stool of government transparency. Open meetings and freedom of information laws are important, and public notice is an essential ingredient.

It’s a fact that newspapers remain the primary vehicle for public notice in all 50 states.

Since the first U.S. Congress, public notice, often times called legal notices, have proven to be the best way to inform the public. First of all, there is accessibility; there is independence; there is verifiability and achievability.

It’s public record.

Verifying publication is difficult to impossible on the web. This is a reason why the courts subject digital evidence to a far greater scrutiny than what’s published in newspapers.

In rural areas of the country, high speed internet access is still lacking. People who are older than 65 who have lower incomes or lack of high school diplomas are also cut from the internet in far higher numbers than average.

When public notice is required in independent, third-party newspapers to ensure public notice run in accordance with the law, it prevents government officials from hiding information.

Minutes of public meetings, financial statements, bid notices and foreclosures are all important information that’s available to the public in newspapers.

When a community loses a newspaper and their schools or cities are seeking bonding for financial needs or projects, they often pay a higher rate when there is not a newspaper holding the officials to public accountability.

Information on the internet can be changed, and often the source might not be readily available, but a newspaper is there for the public to see, to reference and to document.

I realize the type–size is allowed to be smaller for economics in publishing, but don’t overlook the value. It’s very small in the overall cost of government, and it protects everyone.

Some of the information that I am referring to on public notice has come from the Public Notice Resource Center.


Friends share different pieces of information that they find practical, valuable and even humorous. The next several paragraphs are examples of that. I hope you enjoy them like I have.

The ability to speak several languages is an asset, but the ability to keep your mouth shut in any language is priceless.

Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t decide.

When I get a headache, I take two aspirin and keep away from children, just like the bottle says.

Just once, I want the prompt for username and password to say, “Close enough.”

“Your call is very important to us. Please enjoy this 40-minute flute solo.”

Does anyone else have a plastic bag full of plastic bags, or is it just me?

I hate it when I can’t figure out how to operate the iPad and my tech support guy is asleep. He’s 5, and it’s past his bedtime.

So, you drive across town to a gym to walk on a treadmill?

I decided to stop calling the bathroom “John” and renamed it the “Jim.” I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.

Last year, I joined a group of procrastinators. We haven’t met yet.

Why do I have to press 1 for English when you’re just going to transfer me to someone I can’t understand anyway?

Laughing is healthy. Have a great new year.

Gene Johnson, publisher emeritus, Press Publications, White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and past president of NNA (1984), can be contacted at ppinfo@presspubs.com.