County backs move to remove public notices from newspapers

By Jennie ZeitlerStaff Writer

A resolution supporting legislation that would allow counties to remove public notices from newspapers and place them only on county websites was approved by the Morrison County Board, Tuesday.

“This resolution came from the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC), our lobbying group,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber. “It’s been on the platform for a number of years.”

“This really comes into play for counties which have a number of publications serving their constituency,” Gruber said. “We are fortunate enough to have one newspaper that covers our entire area.”

County Auditor/Treasurer Russ Nygren cited Todd County as an example. “There are multiple papers serving that area,” he said. “They have a dilemma of which paper to award the bid to and what the coverage area is.”

“This gives us flexibility to exercise other options for the county,” said Commissioner Kevin Maurer. “It’s a lot of money to publish notices, $22,000.”

Commissioner Jeff Jelinski asked if there were a way for individuals without Internet access to get the information.

“We want to find a way to notify the public that information is available,” Gruber said. “We’re not trying to limit access to information but want to find the best way to make it available. We want it to be more readable, more understandable and more user-friendly.”

Commenting on the resolution, Morrison County Record General Manager Tom West said, “The newspaper industry strongly opposes this proposed legislation. Our surveys show that 85 percent of the people of this county read the Record on a regular basis. Taking public notices out of newspapers and placing them on rarely visited government Websites is a step toward secrecy, not toward a more transparent government.”

  • Jody Scott Olson


  • george williams

    I don’t like loosing the option of the newspapers.not everyone has a computer or even wants one.

    • Jody Scott Olson

      Do you read the public notices because I never do? Maybe there’s another solution that’s more cost effective?

  • Jody Scott Olson

    Is Tom West Morrison County’s General Manager or the General Manager of the Morrison County Record? The article makes it seem as though West represents both the county and the newspaper. Does he?

  • Jody Scott Olson

    Some of my comments didn’t get posted. Since my comments met all posting criteria…I”ll point out that censorship violates my first amendment rights…

  • Jody Scott Olson

    I think this poll should have defined for the pollee’s what they meant by
    “public notices”. I would suspect most assume they are referring to a
    notice saying there is e coli in drinking water as opposed to the waste of
    space crap that no one reads anyway.

    Government should spend our tax dollars on something other than forced
    payments to corporate papers. This staunchly Republican paper should understand
    that this doesn’t fall under the banner of capitalism, let the market decide
    and end newspaper welfare benefits. This is socialist… :)

  • Jody Scott Olson

    I assume the paper also receives funds from the state and city’s for their public notices, plus if the paper isn’t delivered you have to purchase it.

    When I worked for the Record they often cleaned up my news stories to frame local officials in the best light. Some made heinous remarks during public meetings which I taped and quoted only to have editors at the Record remove the quote entirely. Sanitizing stories on behalf of subsidizers renders the paper completely impotent as a “news” source. Of course when you can rely on subsidies to pay your staff the job of reporting becomes secondary. Perhaps the removal of subsidies will renew an investment in journalism. Perhaps then the paper will have to sell itself based on the quality of journalism and and old school muckraking rather than lounging around collecting welfare payments.

    • tmac

      I do not agree with the term subsidies.
      The government is simply paying the Record for a service that they(the government) deems necessary.

  • tmac

    I do not consider it corporate welfare either.
    The government is simply paying the Record for a service that they(the government) deems necessary.either.
    .They surely should not be expected to do it for free.