Trimming Newspapers’ Lifelines

One of things keeping small newspapers alive is legal advertising.

Think of the publication of real estate assessments. That’s the big one.

It was twenty cents a line way back when I knew such prices.

Now, a legislator has been bold enough to sponsor a bill to cut the size of such required ads for fire protection districts.

The Daily Herald reports such districts would no longer have to pay for the publication of ordinances.

Instead, a smaller ad would direct people to the fire protection district’s web site.

Could this be the beginning of a trend as the influence of newspapers declines?

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It didn’t take long for a blow back to the legislation to appear.  The Joliet Beacon-News ran an editorial with this admission:

“And let’s make one other point about these legal notices, and it’s a point of self-interest.

“Financial problems in newspapers are well-documented. Without these legal notices, The Beacon-News would sustain a significant financial impact. In smaller cities, this loss of revenue may mean hometown newspapers may not survive.

“In those cases, the government taxing bodies would be free to spend your tax dollars free from the watchful eye of the press.”

As if newspapers are the only watchdog of local government.

And, it pointed out that McHenry County’s State Senator Pam Althoff and State Rep. Jack Franks were also sponsors.

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