Tallahassee Cuts Newspapers A Break


At a dismal time for newspapers, the industry is getting some good news from the Florida Legislature.

Lawmakers have deep-sixed twin bills which would have robbed newspapers of a lucrative source of income legal ads.

The bills (S 2292 and HB 1477) have apparently died in committee after a full-court press by publishers. 

Word is that publishers personally called Tallahassee, pleading with several key lawmakers to kill the bills.

The Senate bill was temporarily passed—a parliamentary move to kill legislation — in the Senate Community Affairs Committee and has not been rescheduled.

The House bill is languishing in the House Government Affairs Policy Committee and is not scheduled to be debated.

Legal advertising has been a rare bright spot for some segments of the print media lately because of an explosion in required foreclosure notices, according to a Business Week story that is here.

One owner experiencing a boon from foreclosure notices is quoted as saying:  “It’s kind of like being an undertaker in a plague year.”

The apparent death of the bills is a blow to the Florida League of Cities, which strongly supported them as a way for cities to save money. 

Under the proposal, cities would have been permitted to post their notices on the Internet for free rather than pay for them to appear in newspapers.


5 Responses to “Tallahassee Cuts Newspapers A Break”

  1. Chalk One Up for Dinasaurs says:

    Taxpayers could have gotten a break here instead we gave the break to the newspapers. Only about 9% of people read a newspaper anymore. Government notices could have been on-line giving more residents more notice of what their governments do. Good day for newspapers, yes. Bad day for Floridians.

  2. Richard J. Kaplan says:


    I was there in the Senate meeting when it was TP’d. The agreement was to study it over the summer and bring it back next session. So it is not dead. It was just too rushed this session to get through. This was agreed to by the Sponsor.

    The issue the newspapers argued was that only 57% get the internet (but that is growing). However, though I don’t know the circulation of the newspapers, it wouldn’t surprise me that less then 57% get the newspapers. Eventually, if it isn’t less, it will be soon.

    Many still are reading the newspaper, but they read it on-line, and don’t pay for it. Though I subscribed to the Sun-Sentinel, I read at least 5 other newspapers on-line only. I don’t even know if they put their legal notices on-line.

    If the major newspapers go under, like the Miami Herald seems to be going, where will public notice be placed that people will actually read?

    Give it a few more years, and I believe it will become necessary to use the Internet for lack of another place to give adequate public notice. Just like how computers took over how to operate businesses during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

    FROM BUDDY: Almost nothing is ever dead in the Legislature in the sense of forever. It is dead for this session.

  3. Editor says:

    I agree with this bill. Even though I spent my life in newspapers in the north and here, I believe that it would be more user friendly if legal notices were on the Internet. It would make it easier to search for the notices affecting you, rather than have them scattered around the newspaper. It would be more economical for taxpayers, who would save a small fortune now being used to pay for the ads.

  4. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Hello Buddy and Friends:

    I check in now and again, espcially when there’s a discussion of particular interest to me. I’m glad to see discussion on newspaper issues because that’s important. Look, forgive my directness, but I think it’s fair to suggest that there’s been a fundamental shift in the business horizon for the newspaper industry caused in large measure by the internet. In that sense, they brought it on themselves by offering product for free against their own interest to sell same. This never made sense unless the plan was to shift from one media to the other, in which case the time to shift is NOW. Yet newspapers still seem focused on selling “paper” newspapers when the cow on that strategy left the barn years ago.

    Impact? Let’s start with our cities are no longer being effectively covered by local news. You can’t have effective democracies in the US without an attentive and equally effective press. So forgive the suggestion, but there’s more at stake here than merely the financial health of newspaper companies. They have a job to do in this society that’s not getting done. Print journalism is an American imperative, a necessity, and it MUST survive. The question is how and the answer is the internet. So I suggest that hard copy newspapers stop fiddling around and bite the bullet already.

    Tell us that you will stop printing paper newspapers. Tell us that your product will now be offered exclusively by subscribtion on-line. This way newspapers will charge readers less while lowering their expense. They will become more profitable this way. So they can improve the quality of print journalism and sell acccess to that product to TV and radio. And that way everbody wins, the reader, the paper, the people, we hire back the (good) reporters and get back to work. Sun-Sentinel, Herald, are you listening? Please embrace the future before it chokes you and our democracies to death. Best wishes to all,

    Angelo Castillo, Commissioner
    City of Pembroke Pines

    FROM BUDDY: I agree with you about cities in Broward being no longer covered adequately. I wrote about that here.

    The question is whether Internet versions of newspapers like the Sun-Sentinel and The Miami Herald will be able to pay for the resources — reporters, editors and the costs of investigations — to really cover government news.
    I doubt there is a big audience at the present time who would pay enough money for either local paper on the Internet. More important, the advertising that was a monopoly of local newspapers, like classified and car ads, are never going to be the exclusive property of newspaper Internet sites. There are too many other advertising outlets on the Internet.

  5. Good Point But says:


    You make an excellent point. It is absolutely not clear that newspapers at the present time could make enough on the internet. But they needed to think about that long ago, when they decided to give their product away for free. The cow is out of the barn now, too late to rethink the issue. The other alternative is to stop the internet service or do both on a pay basis. But the situation they are in now is untenable. They are no longer performing the function that the fourth estate is supposed to perform. Something’s got to give. That’s my point and the longer they delay the worse it will get. But I respect your view.

    Cheers to you for being a trail blazer on the internet.