There's a renewed push in Harrisburg to take public notices out of newspapers and sequester them on government websites. It should be viewed with as much suspicion as any other government information grab.
With advertising revenue at stake, no newspaper can claim cool disinterest on this issue. But neither can any politician.
The lawmakers involved say eliminating print ads would save money and (somehow) increase transparency - motives that rarely underlie anything that happens in the Capitol. More likely, given that newspapers still employ the lion's share of journalists, this is an opportunity not only to take more public information out of circulation, but to take a whack at the watchdogs in the process.
Public notices are in small print, but they concern important matters: public meetings, official actions, government contracts, zoning exemptions. The requirement that they be printed in newspapers is nationwide and long-standing.
Newspapers know better than most that the world is becoming less printed and more electronic. That's why we publish notices (like most of our content) on our well-read websites as well as in print. Rarely visited government websites are a great way to remove the public from the notices.
Moreover, print provides a durable official record and a link to substantial populations that still don't use the Internet - including 31 percent of Pennsylvanians and 58 percent of senior citizens.
The money spent on newspaper notices, meanwhile, is relatively minuscule. It's about $22,000 a year for the average Pennsylvania school district, for example - not enough to prevent anyone from hiring many more teachers.