Public notices are increasingly less public. Two Virginia legislators want to change that.


Editor's Note: A Jan. 27 opinion column by Dwayne Yancey notes that state Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham County, and Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, have introduced a bill that would allow local governments to advertise their legal notices on local online news sites that meet certain criteria. Yancey wrote:

"This bill (SB 1237) may not be the most important bill in Richmond this year, but it is one that illustrates one of the biggest trends of the past three decades: the rise of the internet, and, with it, the decline of almost anything that doesn’t fit into a digital format.

"For the record, Cardinal News would not benefit from this bill — we don’t sell advertising, we rely solely on donations — so that gives me the freedom to try to take a more objective view of what’s going on."

Yancey also wrote that "online news sites — both nonprofit and for-profit — are springing up like mushrooms after a spring rain." He added:

"On Jan. 13, Lee Enterprises — the Iowa-based company that owns many of the daily newspapers in Virginia — laid off every opinion editor in the state except for one in Richmond. One of those jettisoned journalists, Martin Davis in Fredericksburg, promptly launched F2S, an online news site covering Fredericksburg and its two neighboring counties, Spotsylvania and Stafford. That’s a pretty classic startup story. In Roanoke, laid-off Roanoke Times reporter Hendri Gendreau started The Roanoke Rambler. One thing is certain: In the coming years, we’re going to see a lot more online news sites. Some of these are for-profit, some of these are nonprofit, some take advertising, some don’t, but they are almost all local creations, not products of some distant corporation or hedge fund. The free market is a wonderful thing. State law, though, acts as if these news sites don’t exist. State law thinks it’s still 1923, not 2023."

Read more from the Cardinal News