North Carolina State Sen. Michael Garrett (D-Guilford) has introduced a bill in the state legislature to take Guilford County back in time, or at least to pretend that you can go back in time.
In 2017, the General Assembly passed a bill sponsored by then State Sen. Trudy Wade to permit public notices required by law to be posted electronically rather than in a newspaper with paid subscribers, as was required by a state statute first passed in 1939.
In 1939, there was of course no Internet, and while television had been invented there were no television stations in the state and it made sense to require public notices to be published in a newspaper with paid subscribers in general circulation in the county.
But, 2023 is not 1939. Today the vast majority of the people in Guilford County don’t subscribe to a newspaper, however the vast majority of the people do have Internet access and use the Internet more or less constantly.
Senate Bill 283 introduced by Garrett and co-sponsored by Sen. Gladys Robinson (D-Guilford) has about as much chance of passing and becoming law as the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill basketball team has of winning the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament. (Carolina lost to Virginia on Thursday.)
So, it is interesting that Garrett would introduce a bill to repeal the 2017 bill that allowed Guilford County to join the rest of the world in the 21st century where print journalism is dying a slow painful death while the internet is a major part of most people’s lives.
The current law does not prohibit advertising in a print publication, but it isn’t required as it was in 1939. The legal requirements can be met by publishing electronically on the Guilford County website
The bill is extremely short. Here it is in its entirety.
Short Title: Fair Treatment for Journalism/Guilford County. (Local)
Sponsors: Senator Garrett (Primary Sponsor).
Referred to: A Bill to be Entitled
An Act restoring fair treatment for journalism in Guilford County by repealing a pilot program authorizing Guilford County and municipalities located wholly or partly in Guilford County to publish required notices electronically and authorizing Guilford County to publish legal notices via a county-maintained website for a fee.
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. S.L. 2017-210 is repealed.
SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law.
It’s pretty amazing that we cannot have one consolidated and state run website for the sole purpose of notice by publication. Running ads in a paper is ridiculously expensive and in my many years as an attorney, ONE person that I heard of found out because it was in the paper. And for those hawks that will come post, I am not saying it should be free. I think we should have the same requirements we have now… A judge has to allow service by publication. It’s time we move into the actual century we live in.
This article is called journalism.