As Boston-based journalist Jon Chesto recently reported, local papers nationwide are shuttering their services — leaving towns with limited options to communicate with their residents.
This poses a dilemma because under state law, many government legal notices must appear in a print newspaper. With several towns losing their major outlets, municipal officials are scrambling to find alternative papers to print their news. It’s time for these outdated laws to be replaced.
A potential solution? Updating legal notice laws and finding new options for municipalities to spread their news. Business organizations, non-profits and universities have recently been using digital models to alert their clients, donors, and students to recent news. Local laws should follow this example to find municipalities and towns the best alternatives for legally alerting residents about meetings, applications, announcements and more.
Currently, Massachusetts State Representative Ken Gordon stated on Twitter that he is actively looking to update the definition of newspapers to include more modern options. To aid his efforts, we should look at how digital channels — such as social media, Google Ads and other platforms — can play a role in keeping communities informed in their towns and regions.