Ongoing legislative battles put public notices in peril 10/8/18

If you look closely at the fine print just below the banner logo for, a single-source searchable database for legal ads published by "participating newspapers" across the country, it reads: "The public notice database on this site is not a substitute for the official publication that is required by law. You will still find those notices in your local newspaper."

On the site's homepage are links to each to state with "participating newspapers," though most simply redirect the browser to other websites of a similar design. For example, clicking on the link to Connecticut redirects the user to Connecticut public notices, which is "powered by" From there, users can click on individual links to public notices on individual websites for each newspaper title, or search notices published in any of the state's local and regional titles.

In fact, legally mandated public notices are already prevalently available online and digitally redundant to what's published in printed newspapers. In addition to these sites, they are also found on government-maintained sites, legal sites and on many newspaper-branded websites.

Yet, in several states just this year, legislators have proposed bills that would allow for public notices to bypass print altogether, possibly narrowing access to information and starving newspapers of the revenue derived from publishing information of this kind.

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Christie pushes his case for 'newspaper revenge bill' 1/31/17

Gov. Chris Christie sent a letter last week to legislative leaders to make his case for pushing what has become known as the "newspaper revenge bill."

The legislation, which lacked support when Christie tried to advance it late last year, would allow municipalities to post legal notices on websites instead of newspapers. All legal notices are posted and archived online through the New Jersey Press Association. Multiple sources have said that Christie's intent on getting it passed is to punish newspapers for their critical coverage of him. He hasn't taken questions from state reporters in 140 days.

But Christie contends that the bill is about taxpayer relief. He contends that the bill's passage would save taxpayers "tens of millions" annually, but his analysis to this point falls far below the $80 million he claims newspapers statewide make on the ads.

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Getting social with Hello and finding records via Sqoop 9/28/15

By the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

This week we take a peek at a new social platform centered around users’ passions, and we explore a new tool that can monitor public records.

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