What are already hard times for New Mexico newspapers could get worse under a bill sponsored by House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-NambÃ©.
House Bill 895 would allow the publication of legal notices via television or radio in addition to newspapers. Currently, such notices must be published in newspapers, and that’s a major source of revenue for a struggling industry. Craigslist, which publishes classifieds online for free, has already taken lots of other classified advertising revenue from newspapers, and many papers’ classifieds are now anchored by legal notices.
Lujan’s bill has passed the House on a vote of 58-2 and is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.
Under the bill, legal notices not published in a newspaper would have to be published both over the air and on a television or radio station’s Web site. In some ways, it’s a sign of the times: Since newspaper classifieds (and newspapers themselves) have become less read, why not provide another method for government agencies and others who must publish legal notices to get information to the public?
At the same time, the bill threatens to exacerbate the budgetary woes of the state’s newspapers. In recent years the Albuquerque Tribune has shut down and other newspapers have made significant staff cuts or implemented furloughs.
One other question: If the state is going to expand the list of acceptable ways to publish a legal notice, why not include Internet news sites?
By Heath Haussamen
March 16, 2009