Michigan Press Scores Points in Debate Over ‘Online-only’ Bill

The Michigan Press Association defended itself well in a story over Michigan House Bill 4183, which would require that public notices be published solely online. The bill was postponed on June 18 and has not been taken up since.

Crain’s Detroit Business examined the bill – and how it would affect newspapers and other media sources in the state – in a well-balanced July 5 story. Among other things, the story noted that the bill’s opponents cite “a large swath of the state without reliable Internet or cellphone service” and that “some townships and small cities, especially in rural areas, have rudimentary websites and older populations that still rely on newspapers for information.”

More importantly, perhaps, the newspaper quoted Lisa McGraw, public affairs manager for the Michigan Press Association, as saying that newspapers believe they have an advantage over TV and radio because they have a permanent record built into their business model.

McGraw told the newspaper that MPA doesn’t oppose cities and townships from hosting their own public notices, but that they shouldn’t be the only source.

“People don’t go to local government websites for news. We feel that we’re a better source for this kind of information,” McGraw said. “I just don’t think the broadcasters can do what we do because they can’t provide a print source.”

McGraw also told Crain’s Detroit Business that the revenue newspapers gain from government notices is not significant, but that it might fund a position, particularly at a smaller daily or weekly publication.

Newspapers take notice of legislative threat to revenue – Crain’s Detroit Business (7.5.2015)