While scanning one of my local newspapers (this example comes from The Loudoun Times-Mirror) looking for insipiration, my eyes landed on this story which reports on the proposal made my a member of the Loudoun County School Board, Thomas Reed, to move all public notices from the printed newspaper to another format, preferably on-line.
Putting aside the appropriateness of Reed’s propsal (cost-cutting vs. access to the off-line), his idea reminded me of a ceditra entry I wrote on September 9 of this year.
My random item that was the seed I was to write on was a public notice about a Trustee’s Sale happening in Prince George’s County (that’s in Maryland).
This notice, located in the Metro section of today’s Washington Post, was probably required by some local / county / state ordinance manadating the publication, for all to see, about the impending sale of a defaulted property.
This may be the last territory for newspapers. Over the past half-decade, with the rise of the Net, the media has been all atwitter about the death of the newspaper. Some of it is not hyperbole as numerous publications have gone under or have switched to an on-line presence only.
Public notices, like the one above, have one advantage the on-line world does not have. First off, any person (say a judge or lawyer) can see, byt the masthead, the date of the paper when the notice was published. With a hard and fast printed date, it is easy to determine if a legal obligation has been met by a certain date. Secondly, a printed notice is permanent. No one can alter something previously published on newsprint unlike any hacker worth his or her digital salt.
Sadly, not much of a periodical would it be if all it printed was legal notices.
Back to today and my personal opinion is that while I may not always read public notices in the paper, I read them more than I would if they were posted on-line where they would get lost among all the other links on the Loudoun County Public School website.