WHAT WE THINK: If the state Legislature adopts and Gov. Christie signs into law a bill allowing governments, businesses and citizens to run legal notices online instead of in newpapers, CLIFFVIEW PILOT will post those for municipalities and other public agencies free.
We’ve been following the progress of the bill, while listening to newspaper types try to argue why it’s bad for everyone but them — when THEY are the only ones who’ll suffer once their cash cow finds greener grass.
They’re also arguing that a diabolical purpose exists: the ability for public officials to pull legal ads from papers whose reporting they don’t like.
I worked for newspapers for more than 25 years, and I can tell you: Job One isn’t about being a public trust. It’s about making money.
If it were anything less, so many bright, talented, hard-working people wouldn’t have been put out of work the past few years, and so many papers wouldn’t have merged or folded.
In the end, allowing online legal notices does precisely what many newspapers constantly claim to be trying to do themselves: save the taxpayers money.
Assemblyman Jon Bramnick of Union nailed it when he said it’s not government‘s role to subsidize newspapers — especially at a time in our history, he could have added, when media is no longer newspaper- or TV- or radio-dependent.
Think of it: With us, you don’t have to reach for your specs. You can just increase the size of the type. You can set your feed so that only postings from a certain town, or of a certain type, are routinely delivered to you electronically.
Portable tablets will soon be the norm — the way laptops replaced PCs and mobile devices are replacing laptops. Papers are environmentally insensitive and a pain to get rid of, anyway. Last I checked, fewer people are reading ‘em.
Government in New Jersey has long been about moving with the times. We‘re the progressive state, and it shows. Lawmakers in Trenton put out video news releases now. Not only mayors but even council members have their own web pages.
So why shouldn’t all taxpayer-funded agencies be able to post legal notices online — at no cost — beginning the moment our governor signs the measure into law?
If newspapers want to keep the legals, then run ‘em for free — which they won’t.