Photo by Paul Scharff
By Governor Chris Christie
“On Thursday, the Legislature advanced a commonsense piece of legislation that was first proposed in 2004 and will reform the archaic practice of requiring taxpayers and private businesses to pay for costly legal notices in print newspapers. The legislation provides the option of posting notices online and citizens will be allowed to take advantage of modern technologies that are already in use by the vast majority of the people in our State.
“It also saves money.
“The current unfunded mandate that is being addressed by this legislation costs New Jersey taxpayers and private citizens more than $80 million per year. That is $80 million annually from property taxpayers, including those facing the nightmare of foreclosure.
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Posted: December 18th, 2016 | Author: admin | Filed under: Chris Christie, Opinion | Tags: Chris Christie, Gov Chris Christie, Legal Ads, Legal Advertising, Newspaper Industry, OpEd | 3 Comments »
The newspaper industry is fighting to keep its outdated government subsidy, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year.
By John Bendel
All across New Jersey, governments and school districts are slashing costs to meet the enormous financial challenges they face. Police officers and firefighters are being laid off, road and highway improvements delayed, and funding for snowstorms and other emergencies curtailed. Nearly everyone has been caught up in the statewide budgetary storm of reduced services and higher taxes.
Yet one industry is fighting to remain immune from the hard financial decisions being made by each and every town and school district in the state. Using their editorial pages and considerable clout, New Jersey’s newspapers have put their own financial interests ahead of the taxpayers, including their own readers, by opposing legislation that would save money and make government more open and accountable. This legislation would give governments the option to publish legal notices online rather than in newspapers, as they’ve been mandated to do by law for decades. The change being fought so aggressively by the newspapers not only would save taxpayer dollars, but give hundreds of thousands more citizens access to the information – and in a more easily accessible way.
Using the public’s “right to know” as cover, the newspaper industry in New Jersey is fighting to preserve its own monopoly – a monopoly that’s being subsidized by upwards of $30 million a year in taxpayers’ money. The New Jersey Press Association and its member news organizations across the state are trying to hold onto the kind of no-bid contract they routinely condemn.
Last year, we saw New Jersey’s newspaper industry elbowing for space on Trenton’s Lobby Row to save their slice of the government pie. They lined the halls of the Statehouse – lobbying legislators in a bid to influence the process not for the public good, but for their own economic gain. They became just another special interest. And while they were busy arm-twisting legislators who will vote on the issue, they were using their editorial pages to intimidate those same legislators.
The bill was to be posted again for a vote last week, but Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver apparently succumbed to newspaper pressure and pulled it at the last minute.
A core principle of newspapers is never to confuse their editorial opinions and news content with their companies’ economic interests. In this case, that line has been crossed. And the newspaper publishers and editors crossed that divide in the interest of propping up a practice that is an anachronism in the modern world of the Internet. The law granting newspapers this particular monopoly was passed during the age of typewriters. It makes no sense whatsoever to preserve that law in the Internet era.
It’s especially disingenuous for the newspaper lobby to be stubbornly fighting the posting of legal ads online at the very time those newspapers are admonishing governments to post more information – everything from salaries to contracts to marriage licenses – on the Internet, on government websites already up and running. Recently the Bergen Record, Courier-Post and The Press of Atlantic City all ran editorials calling on governments to offer more documents and records online to benefit the public. Could it be that the newspaper industry is interested in transparency only when it doesn’t affect its own financial interests? You be the judge.
The benefits of allowing the posting of legal notices online are indisputable.
First, it greatly expands a notice’s exposure to the public, giving citizens greater, cheaper and more convenient access to legal notices. And the information would be available 24-7, in Spanish as well as English, in more easily readable form.
Second, the cost savings are clear. The state, county and local governments would post the legal ads on their existing websites, a simple process requiring no added expense; in fact, the scanning procedure is so easy it’s familiar to grammar-school students. Newspaper executives argue that the costs to taxpayers for running the legals in their publications have been overestimated since the private sector pays for some of the ads -liquor license applications, sheriff sales, and certain land-use matters for example. Why should the private sector fork over millions to newspapers when they could run the ads at no cost on government web sites?
Finally, while individual citizens must pay 75 cents to $1 to buy a newspaper – and much more on Sundays – they could access the same information online, at little or no cost. The fact is, online posting would save governments, individuals and businesses the millions of dollars they spend each year to pay whatever publishers charge for placing a legal ad in their newspapers.
Earlier this year in the Borough of Island Heights where I live, mandated legal ads cost the borough approximately $4,000. This is no small amount of money for a town struggling to make ends meet.
The newspaper lobby would have you believe that the proposed change would be harmful to those who do not use the Internet, especially seniors. Give me a break. The number of people using the Internet has exploded over the last decade – to the point where those who go online to learn the latest news, weather, sports scores and other information far outnumber those who buy newspapers. Going online has become second nature to a vast majority of Americans – including my fellow seniors.
By way of review, New Jersey laws mandate that individuals, businesses and government entities pay to publish legal notices in officially-designated newspapers. The New Jersey Legislature is considering amending the law to allow for publication of those legal notices on official state, county and municipal web sites in addition to, or instead of, traditional newspaper advertising. Technological advances and the growing abundance of government information online demonstrate the benefits of broad dissemination of legal notices on the Internet as an alternative to traditional newspaper publication. Amending the law to allow the option of posting legal notices on a web site enables residents throughout the state to view any kind of legal notice from any part of the state. Far more New Jersey residents have access to information available on the web than to any one newspaper designated to publish legal notices. While traditional newspapers were the only logical means of ensuring public access to information in the past, today any resident can gain Internet access either at home, through their jobs, at any public library, in most public schools, and at community centers and Internet cafes.
Newspaper publication imposes time constraints on the availability of legal notices that web site posting would not. For example, the law requiring publication of a legal notice of a proposed toll hike might only mandate that the notice appear for a certain number of days in one or more designated official newspaper. Because web sites have far greater capacities than a single print edition of a newspaper, the same legal notice could remain posted on official state, county and municipal websites for several months or more, allowing residents greater opportunity to find and view the information. Instead of being subjected to the painstaking process of going through individual back copies of a newspaper, a resident could go to a single web site to find the legal notice they are looking for.
Official web sites can be designed to allow flexibility in sorting and searching for legal notices. Those web sites could be required to provide users the ability to search for legal notices by date posted, the appropriate county or other geographic category, or the subject of the posting. A person who prefers searching for postings by scanning pages of newspapers would retain that option, while someone searching for a fairly specific posting – such as applications for liquor licenses in December, 2003 only – could search for and view only the relevant notices.
Amending the law to expand the available avenues for publishing legal notices affords governments, businesses and individuals a virtually free method of publishing notices that they have to pay for under the current system. Such a proposal will not limit access to newspapers or restrict anyone from continuing to publish legal notices in newspapers. Instead, it offers far greater flexibility in posting legal notices and increases the public’s access — at a vastly reduced cost for everyone.
John Bendel is an Island Heights, N.J. councilman, president of Bendel & Bendel Inc., and former editorial page editor of the North Jersey Herald News.
Posted: January 16th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Media, New Jersey, NJ Media | Tags: John Bendel, Legal Advertising, Newspaper Industry | 3 Comments »
Legislation that ends the requirement of “Legal Ads” being published in newspapers, in favor of the ads being posted on government websites, is on the calendar in both the Senate and Assembly on Monday, the last day of the current legislative session.
Call or email your legislators right now and ask them to vote YES on S-2072 in the Senate and A-2082 in the Assembly. You can find your legislators contact information here.
Classified ads in newspapers have gone the way of the horse and buggy. The Internet has made them obsolete. On most days Legals Ads make up the vast majority of the once thick classified section. The private sector has already voted. Taxpayers and those with proceedings before a court or board should not have to subsidize an antiquated practice.
Posting Legal Notices on municipal, county and state websites will lead to more people seeing them and will save the public between $12 and $70 million per year, depending upon who you believe. The newspaper industry says they ads cost only $12 million per year. Proponents of the bill says they cost $70 million.
Posted: January 7th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Legislature, New Jersey, NJ State Legislature | Tags: A2082, Legal Ads, Legal Notices, Newspaper Industry, S-2072 | 20 Comments »
Governor Chris Christie signed legislation to designed to revitalize Atlantic City. The Oceanport Task Force on Monmouth Park stepped up its efforts to save New Jersey’s horse racing industry.
Live Action Video released a tape of a Perth Amboy Planned Parenthood office manager coaching an actor posing as a pimp how to “beat the system” set up to protect underage sex trafficking victims. Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog, called the video a hoax and defended Planned Parenthood for alerting the FBI about a potential multistate sex trafficking ring. Amy Woodruff, the Planned Parenthood office manager, was fired. Frank Pallone was silent on the matter. The Asbury Park Press issued an inaccurate editorial defending Planned Parenthood.
The U.S. Census Bureau released the results of the 2010 census. New Jersey lost a congressional district. Hispanics became the state’s largest minority group. New Jersey’s population shifted from the north to the southern and central regions of the state.
New Jersey’s newpaper industry appealed to Trenton Democrats to maintain their corporate welfare in the form of “legal advertising.”
Congressman Christopher Lee, (R-Buffalo, NY) resigned three hours after gawker.com published shirtless photos of him that he had sent to a woman seeking a date via craigslist.
By-laws, and the lack thereof, for the Monmouth GOP became a hot topic for a week or two.
Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich likened Congressman Chris Smith and American Catholics opposed to abortion to the Arizona shooter.
Freeholder Deputy Director John Curley called for a public review of Brookdale Community College’s budget and spending after learning of expensive country club memberships and a housing allowance for college President Dr. Peter Burnham. Burnham had drafted a budget that called for a 8.2% tuition increase and blamed the need for the increase on the Freeholder Board reducing the county subsidy for the college.
Red Bank Councilman Michael Dupont and Shrewsbury attorney Brian Nelson fought over the Sayreville Borough Attorney’s job.
The Republican Association of Princeton was reconstituted as The Lincoln Club of New Jersey under the leadership of Scott Sipprelle.
Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas, Wall Committeeman George Newberry and Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich launched their campaigns for the GOP nomination for Freeholder.
Posted: December 27th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2011 Year in review | Tags: 2010 Census, Abortion, American Catholics, Amy Woodruff, Andrew Lucas, Asbury Park Press, Atlantic City, Brian Nelson, Brookdale Community College, Chris Christie, Chris Smith, Christoper Lee, Ed Zipprich, Frank Pallone, Gary Rich, Gawker.com, George Newberry, John Curley, Legal Advertising, Lincoln Club of New Jersey, Live Action Video, Media Matters, Michael Dupont, Monmouth GOP, Newspaper Industry, Oceanport Taskforce on Monmouth Park, Peter Burnham, Planned Parenthood, Sayreville, Scott Sipprelle | 11 Comments »
By Art Gallagher
In a column published on northjersey.com this morning, Bergen Record columnist Charlie Stile lays out the case against legislation that would allow local governments to post their legal notices on the web, rather than to place ads in newspapers at the expense of taxpayers and private businesses and individuals.
The case, according to the Star Ledger publisher Richard Vezza….giving politicians the option of spending money with newspapers or posting the notices on government websites would turn the press into “lapdogs you can control” rather than watchdogs.
The bill could very well put some newspapers out of business, according to Stile.
Charlie Stile just wrote that newspapers integrity is for sale and that legal notices are essentially a government bailout of the industry. I like Charlie, but I don’t see any other way to read his column.
The publishers who testified in Trenton against the legislation said it wouldn’t save that much money. Only $8 million for taxpayers “which isn’t that much when spread over 566 municipalities,” and $12 million for private businesses and individuals (who are also taxpayers, presumably). Proponents of the legislation say it would produce a $70 million savings.
I was killing some time with an associate yesterday while we were waiting to meet someone. A copy of the Asbury Park Press was in the waiting area. My friend picked up the paper and said, “I stopped buying this paper two years ago. I can believe how thin it is.” The classified section was only 5 or 6 pages. Three of those pages were legal notices. A 1/2 page was prostitution ads and Al Gore style “massage therapists” ads.
The question of legal ads should not be one of journalistic integrity….the publishers have already unwittingly admitted that their integrity is a fallacy and that they can be bought. Nor should the question be one of propping up a struggling industry, as desirable as that industry might be.
The question should be, What is the least expensive way to get the ads to the most people?
Clearly, the private sector has already voted. Ad dollars have left the newspaper industry and gone to the Internet where the message finds a larger audience for less money. Requiring taxpayers, private business and individuals to prop up a failing industry only prolongs the inevitable. Technology has made newspapers obsolete, just as technology made the horse and buggy and the 8-track player obsolete.
Sad, as the obsolescence of the horse and buggy was for those invested in that industry and who couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt was sad, but true.
Posted: February 8th, 2011 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Media, NJ Media | Tags: Media, Newspaper Industry | 11 Comments »