Everyday at the Powell Tribune, as I walk from the editorial department in the back of the office to the breakroom to get coffee or tea, I pass by wall shelving holding bound copies of every edition …
Everyday at the Powell Tribune, as I walk from the editorial department in the back of the office to the breakroom to get coffee or tea, I pass by wall shelving holding bound copies of every edition of the paper down to the early days, more than 100 years ago.
It’s a repository of information on the community, from notes on Powell High School grads now serving in one of the century’s big wars, how the local high school teams performed, what new policies the city council or school board were enacting. It’s also a repository of information from local governments, from county commission minutes to city legal notices. Through all of the changes in the media landscape it’s still there, for anyone to see.
It’s nice to see Gov. Mark Gordon agrees with the importance of that permanence as, once again, some members of the state Legislature push a law that would no longer require local governments to publish notices in the newspaper of record.
At the Wyoming Press Convention last weekend Gordon said as much to the assembled media, even as he allowed that he sees different ways people are consuming media. We agree, which is why we published local government notices online as well.
“Right now is probably as much a challenging time to get public notices out as ever — what platform are you going to use?” he said. “And how does it go? Do people still read the paper like when they used to, etc. But the paper is a permanent repository that has value and for my money, that is something that we need to make sure we keep.”
He said, if anything, governments shouldn’t limit themselves to just one approach to get the news out about important public comment periods or meetings coming up.
The newest bill would allow governments not to pay to put legal notices online but instead create a government database. As many have said, it’s like the fox guarding the henhouse (a phrase I use as someone who has gone after foxes trying to raid our henhouse, and it’s not a pretty sight).
If governments want to have their own site, the more the better. But in many towns around the state, the newspaper is the oldest continuously operating business. Sounds like a pretty good place to keep the record of government actions for not just as long as a government website stays up.
All 40 Wyoming Press Association member newspapers also have a statewide site where they post the printed legal notices for free at wyopublicnotices.com.