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Government-required public notices have been published in newspapers since colonial times, generating a steady and profitable income stream, especially at small weeklies. But the advent of websites operated by federal, state and local governments gave politicians a money-saving opening to redirect public notices to their own sites.
Overwhelmingly, that simply hasn’t happened. Despite growing legislative challenges, newspapers have managed to retain nearly all their public notice business. And for many, it has become indispensable to survival.