When newspapers were first published in the United States there were public notices in them. They served to tell the community of readers what they needed to know about their town or village.
Public notices are announcements from all levels and branches of government, from businesses and from individuals published by local, daily and weekly newspapers, often in their classified advertising sections.
The public notices or legal ads are timely and more importantly, they are permanent. Once published, notices cannot be changed and become a part of local newspaper archives, even being digitally saved as well.
Public notices inform you about government actions, alert you about things that could affect you and your family, as well as your neighborhood, and bring to you news that could affect your livelihood or business too.
Public notices invite you to participate in the Democratic process and in business opportunities.
By reading these nuggets of information you might just learn if the bar at the end of your block has applied for a liquor license and a late night permit. You will be informed if a neighbor is seeking to double the size of his modest house into a zoning busting “McMansion.”
Public notices and legal ads serve as a system of checks and balances for our government and have added an important element of transparency to the government’s process of permits and zoning laws.
People who go looking for public notices in their local weekly publications like the Queens Courier and Courier Sun often find them to be part of the light that should shine everywhere in government. They educate, they inform but most importantly, they police.
The benefit to the community of public notices far outweighs their cost. They bring to readers’ attention neighbors that are not paying their taxes. They allow people to compare their taxes with the taxes of others.
Public notices also help support the cost of providing news to the community.
The modest revenue that comes from public notices support weekly newspapers. The rates are set by the state Legislature and have not increased since 1991, but the cost of producing a newspaper certainly has.
When you hear someone say public notices are too expensive, you can be sure
they have only a superficial understanding. They don’t know the value these notices bring to their communities and to lives overall. Keep these notices in newspapers where they belong.