Thursday, April 11, 2013

Equal Opportunity For Beer Drinkers, Rhino Nails It on Public Notices in Guilford County

Equal Opportunity For Beer Drinkers

John Hammer from Rhino Times nails it with part of article in regards to public notices . Here is what he had to say:

April 11, 2013
We don't qualify for government-required advertising in newspapers because we don't have paid circulation, so we don't have a dog in the fight over Senate Bill 186 that state Sen. Trudy Wade is sponsoring. The mainstream media, which gets all of that government-mandated advertising, is going nuts because they see the money river is going to be diverted away from them.

The current state law requires that advertisements required by the state to be placed in a newspaper of general circulation – such as public hearings and tax liens – also have enough paid circulation to qualify for a second class postal permit. Since The Rhino Times doesn't have much paid circulation, we don't qualify for advertisements that state law requires local governments run.

The bill sponsored by Wade would allow governments to advertise on their own websites instead of in a newspaper, saving local governments thousands of dollars, but also costing local newspapers thousands of dollars in lost advertising revenue, since it seems to be accepted that local governments advertise in newspapers because they are required to by law, not because they believe it is a good idea.

The law requiring advertisements in local newspapers was passed in 1940, before the advent of television, and before the internet was even conceived.

One of the major arguments made against allowing local governments to advertise on their own websites is that not everyone has a computer.

That is absolutely true. Not everyone has a computer, but the News & Record, which gets most of the government-required advertising in Guilford County, has a daily circulation of about 50,000. Guilford County has a population of right at 500,000. So 10 percent of the people in Guilford County subscribe to the newspaper where governments are required to run their ads.

But newspapers are not just read by one person. The accepted multiplier for daily newspapers is 2.5. So the N&R can count 125,000 readers in Guilford County. But that is still only 25 percent of the population. So the N&R advertisement is available to 25 percent of the population. According to a Google search, 76 percent of Americans own computers. So an online notice would be available free of charge to 76 percent of the population.

In neither case can you count on someone actually seeing the advertisement or notice. But in the case of the newspaper advertisement someone has to pay for the newspaper. It might not be the reader, but someone pays for the subscription.

For someone without a dog in this fight, the better choice seems obvious. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to go after 25 percent of the population when you can spend nothing to go after 76 percent doesn't make sense. You also have to consider that of the 24 percent who don't have computers, a good percentage have access to computers or the information on computers.

The idea that is being promoted is that people who can't afford a computer would not have access to the information. But how many people who can't afford a computer have a newspaper subscription?

It looks like what they call a no-brainer to me.

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