By Michelle Ferrier
The North Carolina General Assembly is considering the rollback of a long-time requirement for some local governments that legal notices be printed in the local newspaper, a revenue stream for publishers totaling millions of dollars a year. States across the country, including Virginia, have been gnawing on the issue as well.
Should HB 504 become law, nine North Carolina counties and municipalities within those counties would no longer be dependent on their local newspapers as a vehicle for notification of bids for state contracts, announcements of property foreclosures, or disclosure of other government or legal business. The counties could instead post notices on their own electronic servers.
What might be lost? The local newspaper itself, most likely, as publications face technological disruptions and the great collapse of revenue from classified, display and subscriptions income streams. It’s no secret that the print journalism industry is already struggling to reinvent itself in our brave new digital world.
Ferrier is an associate professor at Elon University and vice president of Journalism That Matters, a collaboration of journalists, technologists, librarians, educators and others helping to shape the new news ecology through journalism innovation, technology and interdisciplinary conversation.