Editorial: Newspapers and proper legal notice


State Rep. Ken Goodman of Rockingham, speaking of the importance of continuing to require the publication of legal notices in general circulation newspapers, said, “Newspaper not only are a component of people’s right to know, but in communities like mine, they are very much a part of the social fabric.”

Yes, it may sound self-serving to defend the legal notices requirement, but in addition to Goodman, a Democrat, Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly — Rep. Chris Malone of Wake County, Rep. Ted Davis of New Hanover and Rep. Stephen Ross of Burlington, and Sen. Norman Sanderson of coastal District 2 are supporting the rule.

This is not just about protecting a revenue source for newspapers, but is fundamentally about the public’s right to know. Allowing legal notices to just go online at government sites limits that right because it removes what for many tens of thousands of North Carolinians is a primary source of information. The public should be rightly suspicious when any curb on such sources is proposed, and in the attempt to do so, other legislators seem more interested in harming newspapers that may have reported critical stories about them than they are protecting that democratic right to know.

That right should trump petty politics. The Republicans (and Democrats) who understand that deserve recognition, and gratitude from all those who believe access to information is part of the right of free speech.