Stickland Proposes End to Newspaper Rent-Seeking

You won’t read about Freshman State Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s idea to save taxpayer dollars in the papers. That’s because his bill will allow political subdivisions to post notices on their website, instead of paying for advertising space in local newspapers.


State Rep. Jonathan Stickland
Current state law requires certain political subdivisions to post notices in a local newspaper. Those statutes were legitimate way to increase transparency before the invention of the World Wide Web — when local papers were virtually the only source of news for a community.

But in 2013, is it really necessary to require a local governmental entity to spend tax dollars on an ad placement in a local newspaper, when it’s free to post a notice on their website? Especially when so few read the newspaper and so many have computers or web-enabled mobile devices.

Mr. Stickland’s HB 335 gives those political entities the flexibility to satisfy that newspaper posting requirement by posting the same notice on its website continuously over the same time interval.

Ironically, newspaper associations and others have ganged up to refute the merits of Mr. Stickland’s bill (i.e. protect their guaranteed source of advertising revenue) with…  a website.

No, seriously. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

Websites are more cost-effective and better at informing the public — even for a dying medium trying to justify its relevance in the 21st century. A website may not guarantee transparency, but neither does a posting in the back of a newspaper no one reads anymore.

Thank you, newspaper lobby, for demonstrating exactly why HB 335 is needed.

 

NOTE: HB 335 is considered priority legislation and is subject for scoring on the 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dustin Matocha is the Executive Director of Empower Texans. Dustin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Management, a BA in Government, and a minor in Marketing. He’s a self-described Corvette enthusiast, baseball purist, tech geek and growing connoisseur of local craft beer.

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