During the 2015 Colorado Press Association Annual Convention, a meeting was held to discuss the future of public notices in newspapers, and three basic questions were asked.
One, are public notices important to the public?
The overwhelming answer is yes. They provide a third-party check to government transparency in permanent record. By doing so, we service both the public — giving them easy, affordable, permanent and one-stop access to government reports — and the government — giving them a third-party check, which protects them from accusations of not releasing proper information or having their systems hacked and their information changed.
Two, are public notices important to newspapers?
Yes. As the fourth estate, it’s an important function we provide to give residents third-party, permanent access. It is disingenuous to say that the money newspapers receive from publishing public notices is not important, but we view it far from being a subsidy, but part of the business of keeping the public informed.
Three, so if public notices are important to the public and to newspapers, what are you doing to promote it?
The answer, for the most part, was not much. Few newspapers ran house ads, or talked about their importance to their readers. Thus, the idea of creating a Best Practices Guide was born.
Inside this document you will find ideas on promotion, as well as resources about public notices that can be used.
This is a living document, so if you have suggestions to add or have questions, please feel free to contact us.