With new website, state government has never been more open to you

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Andrew Johnson
Thursday, January 27, 2011

The ad states “Wisconsin government has never been more open,” and it’s from the newspapers of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Before you take us to task on that statement, go online and visit WisconsinPublicNotices.org—our comprehensive, searchable, statewide public notice website. The site was launched this week by WNA to enhance government’s longstanding practice of distributing public information via newspapers.

Search content on the site by city, county, newspaper, ZIP code and key word. Select your hometown newspaper, type in “minutes,” and choose “all words” in the search type menu. Try “foreclosure” or “bid.”

Wisconsin’s government is keeping you informed, and government business is indeed yours.

WisconsinPublicNotices.org is a free resource available to all, offering a direct link to public notices that are first published by newspapers from around our state. The Wisconsin Legislature has long understood the value of an informed citizenry and has always mandated that public notices be published in ink, on paper, in newspapers across the state.

This permanent, third-party documentation—unalterable and independent of government itself—ensures protection for each and every person. The public must be given opportunities to be made aware of government actions that affect them, whether it is the activity of all government or the actions of courts. It’s the public’s right to know.

WisconsinPublicNotices.org takes each newspaper’s partnership with government a step further by enhancing government’s reach to today’s online readers. The site brings those ink-on-paper notices together in one online home that can assist citizens who want to know more about the actions of local, county and state government, as well as events occurring in the local and state court system. Notices are first published in newspapers and then placed on the site to offer enhancements such as statewide search and round-the-clock updates to online readers.

Studies tell us that today’s citizens are reading newspapers in print and they are reading newspapers online—our own 2009 survey told us that 83 percent of Wisconsin adults read a local newspaper, and a national analysis conducted by comScore in October of 2010 reported that newspaper companies attract nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of all adult Internet users.

Our industry is serving its readers by making news available in both print and online mediums—it’s critical that government public notices are available to be read online, too. There is no cost to the public for accessing notices on the WisconsinPublicNotices.org website, and there is no added cost to units of government for placing the notices on the site.

WisconsinPublicNotices.org brings the notices published by WNA’s 30 daily and 195 weekly newspapers together on one site, saving citizens the task of searching many sites for one notice. It’s digital democracy.

Andrew Johnson is president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Board of Directors and publisher of the Dodge County Pionier, 126 Bridge St., P.O. Box 271, Mayville, WI 53050; phone (920) 387-2211.

Last updated: 3:59 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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