Welcome to the Public Notice Resource Center
The mission of the Public Notice Resource Center, Inc. (PNRC) is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on public and private notifications to the public through local newspapers, and to educate the public on the value and use of its right to know.
PNRC Names First National Public Notice Journalism Award Winner
The Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic has been named the first recipient of the PNRC’s national Public Notice Journalism Award for 2014. The newspaper is recognized for a series inaugurated by an alert reader who spotted a payment by a local school board in a public notice. The reader’s tip to the newspaper led to a protracted open records lawsuit by the newspaper against the school district. The conclusion: the revelation of a $175,000 severance agreement with a former school superintendent that otherwise would not have reached the readers’ attention.
The award will be presented March 13 at the National Press Club. Republic editor Seth Tupper will receive the award on behalf of the newspaper.
PNRC President Bradley L. Thompson II, chairman and CEO of the Detroit Legal News, said the revelation of a secret, sealed agreement between the public body and its former employee was the type of public business that might have been swept aside if not for the public notice.
“(The series) all started with the reader who saw the payment in the legals and called us with the tip. Without those legals, I don’t believe anyone outside of the school district board and administration would ever have known about the amount or nature of the $175,000 agreement between the school district and the ex-superintendent,” Tupper said.
Thompson said the Republic’s reporting demonstrated why Americans need robust and viable public notice.
“This series is a terrific illustration of why it is important for governments to keep these notices where the public is likely to find them. The reader in this case helped to point to the story. The reporting staff and their Freedom of Information lawsuit did the rest. We are honored to recognize this excellent series,“ he said.
The entry was selected from a pool of stories involving public notice that ran in US newspapers in 2013.
The Public Notice Journalism award was established in 2013 by American Court and Commercial Newspapers in partnership with state newspaper associations. It is intended to encourage reporters and editors to incorporate public notices into their reporting and writing.
In 2014, participating state press associations will begin to make Public Notice Journalism Contest awards within their own existing newspaper awards programs. A national winner will be selected in 2015 from top state candidates.
The winning series of stories can be read here:
Secretive contract ordered public – March 30, 2013
Secret agreement goes to court – May 2, 2013
Paper wins lawsuit against school – August 29, 2013
Secret agreement still secret – August 30, 2013
Huron secret agreement unsealed, read aloud – September 10, 2013
Amount of secret agreement confirmed – September 11, 2013
Column: We raise hell – because it’s our duty – September 11, 2013
Consumers Trust Print Advertising More than Online (added 1.22.2014)
Consumers trust newspaper advertising over online advertising, finds a recent report by the Nielsen Company.
The report, Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages, found that trust in traditional advertising is among the most trusted form of paid advertising. The survey was conducted in early 2013 and polled 29,000 internet respondents from across the globe.
As newspapers face renewed efforts in 2014 to pull public notices from newspapers onto the Web, it is crucial for legislators to understand the importance of newspapers as a trusted source of content for consumers.
Of particular note regarding newspapers in the report, 67% of respondents trust editorial content such as newspaper articles and 61% of those polled trust ads in newspapers. Conversely, only 42% of respondents trust online banner ads.
The survey also polled consumers about how much action they take based on an advertisement. The results here found that 65 percent take action from an ad in a newspaper. Only 50% say they take action from an online banner ad.
Arkansas Pig Lot Raises Stink with Legal, but Insufficient, Notice
Residents of Mt. Judea, Ark., were surprised to learn recently that their peaceful community is about to become host to a hog farm that will house up to 6,503 hogs. Residents of the town, through a coalition of environmental groups, say that while notices about the development of the C&H Hog Farm may have been legally sufficient, few in town knew about the approval processes.
“What really set me off was the fact that it was a done deal by the time we heard about it,” says Gordon Watkins, a nearby farmer and president of the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance, one of the groups in the coalition. “It had been done very quietly with no fanfare and even some neighbors of the property didn’t know about it until after the fact.” Watkins spoke with the Arkansas Times in Little Rock.
The environmental coalition has sued two federal agencies that backed the loan to build the facility, alleging that the Farm Services Agency and the Small Business Administration failed to do adequate environmental assessments and offer adequate public notice. The coalition has also been sharply critical of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the state permitting process that approved the facility, though it hasn’t sued the state so far, Times reporter David Ramsey said.
The notice for the federal agencies was published in an edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette not widely available in the affected area, though there is a local community newspaper in the area. State law required the ADEQ notice only to be carried on the agency’s website, which it was. PNRC is monitoring the case for possible future action.
Hog farm near the Buffalo River stirs controversy – The Arkansas Times, Little Rock (8.15.2013)
Hutchinson: More Notice Needed On Hog Farm, Other Projects – Northwest Arkansas Online, Fayetteville, Ark., (9.7.2013)
Groups Go to Court to Protect Buffalo National River from Factory Hog Farm Waste – press release (8.6.2013) | A copy of the lawsuit is here
What are surrounding states doing regarding public notice?