Public Notices In Wyoming Newspapers Are Obsolete (OPINION)
Last Thursday I read an opinion piece on the air from Bill Sniffin, Publisher of Cowboy State Daily, where he tried making the case that we need to keep public notices in our Wyoming newspapers. The conversation quickly got into the weeds as people began calling the show trying to defend why the still enjoy reading a physical newspaper. In this article, I'll explain what I was really talking about.
Before the internet, local governments only had one way to get the word out to the general public, through the local newspaper.
Back then any "public notice" information would be written up by a city employee and delivered to the local paper for publication. Local governments paid their local papers for the service.
It was so important that these notices go out it is actually a law it most states that this is done. I say most states because a few states have actually repealed their public notice law as soon as they noticed that it was no longer necessary.
Mr. Sniffin was writing about a bill before the Wyoming Senate (SF 17) that would repeal the requirement of local governments to post public notices in their local papers. He is opposes to the bill.
Today, public notice information is typed up by a clerk in the local government, just like it was before, but now all they have to do is drag and drop that information on to the government website. BOOM DONE! That's it.
That website is up and running anyway. It does not cost any extra to post it there. By the way, any public notice you read in the local paper is already on the government website. So, why are we paying extra for something that is already being done at no extra cost?
Physical newspapers are temporary - at best. They are read then used to train the puppy to poop on. Unless you want to wait until the local papers is open, drive down there and sift through years worth of archives to find what you are looking for.
The internet, on the other hand, keeps that information for all time. Someone can grab their phone at any time and simply ask the device to look up what they need- and there it is in front of them in about two seconds, literally. They can do this for free, no matter when it was published, no matter where they are, any time of the day or night.
Finally, I am a tightwad with the taxpayers money. That cash belongs in the pockets of the people who earned it. Add to that Wyoming's budget problems and we have several good reasons to stop spending money on something that is obsolete.
While talking about this on-air, I began getting calls from older folks who complained that they don't know anything about the internet and they don't want to know. For the record, there are not many people left who think this way. For those few it is their loss if they don't want to explore this new technology that puts the sum of all human art, science, literature, history, video, and audio at their disposal at a moment's notices. But that is not what we are talking about here.
If you like reading a physical newspaper, fine- keep reading it! But like it or not physical newspapers are going away. That is a fact. So, let's quit using tax payer money to print something where fewer and fewer people will find it.