Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Utah Press Association responds to SB 208

I wrote about SB 208 as it was being discussed at the blogger briefing yesterday at the Capitol. I received the following comment, which I'm reprinting here to call attention to the other side:

The truth is that newspapers get it. If Sen. Urquhart had made a simple phone call or asked questions of legislators who are familiar with the idea would have shown that the Utah Press Association agrees on the the need to expand the reach and accessibility of use of public notice.

However, we believe that public notice should be both in newspapers and on the Web. For the past two years, with the agreement of former Senate President John Valentine and Sen. Dennis Stowell, R-Parowan, Utah's newspapers have developed a new centralized Web site that is now in beta testing.

Also, for several years we have maintained and continue to maintain, utahlegalnotices.com. Both of these Web sites have been searchable by key words. The new Web site will be RSS feed capable and a fully searchable database of statewide public notices. One will also be able to subscribe to e-mail feeds on a particular key word.

We believe that we have developed one of the most sophisticated legal notice Web sites in the United States. The Utah Press Association has also pledged to create an advertising campaign that would help citizens better understand and access public notices.

As has been the case for centuries, public notice is best served by a third-party, independent source. There should be a be check and balance on government power. In other words, should the fox be watching the henhouse when it comes to legal notices? Also, should the government be in the business of creating its own communications bureaucracy?

Also, there are real costs associated with creating and maintaining a public notice Web site. Currently, along with the initial startup costs, the Utah Public Meeting Notice Web site has at least one full-time staff and ongoing costs through the Utah Department of Archives.
Joel Campbell
Utah Press Association
Legislative Monitor
foiguy@gmail.com

3 comments:

David said...

I have seen that same comment copied on multiple posts about the briefing. Promises from the newspapers about what they are going to do are not very comforting. If they build their site and leave free access - in other words duplicate what SB 208 would do then we won't need the state to do it. If they do it and charge their high prices then there's no reason that we can't have the pass-through-cost cersion as well.

BenJoe said...

What is interesting is there is legislation to increase the cap on the publishing of legal notices. What is the purpose of this bill if this new website is going to be cheaper or free?

Bob said...

The two bills have come about independently. The newspapers want to charge more for their legal notices so that they can bring in more revenue.