CJR article errs in assessment of public notice, newspapers

By Richard Karpel

Karpel, Richard
Richard Karpel

In a recent article in Columbia Journalism Review, Liena Zagare and Ben Smith argue that local governments should move public notice and other civic advertising from newspapers to local-news websites like their own BKLYNER.

To buttress their case, they claim that a newspaper in their borough, the Brooklyn Eagle, recently had “three of its 12 pages entirely covered” by advertising designed to “make sure taxpayers see how their money is being spent, and to prevent officials from hiding corrupt deals.” But those three pages of advertising in the Eagle were placed by law firms, not public officials. And its purpose was to provide official notice of courtroom process, not public spending. That’s a pretty glaring mistake. Surely, CJR would want to correct the record, right?

We thought so too, but CJR disagrees.

However, we’re less interested in CJR’s editorial policy than in what the mistake illustrates about the authors’ understanding of public notice: It is sorely lacking. And people who write about subjects they know little about tend to spread misinformation, which is what Zagare and Smith have done.

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Newspapers can learn from fate closing in on retail giants

By Layne Bruce

Layne Bruce

Retail disruption is the preoccupation du jour for financial analysts, business reporters and a large slice of the public at large that suddenly finds itself increasingly relying on Alexa to handle shopping for paper towels and underwear.

Kmart’s been struggling for a long time now. Stock prices for Kroger took a beating last week on news Amazon was buying Whole Foods. But perhaps no giant of retail better exemplifies the struggles of adaption than Sears.

From its beginnings in the 19th Century, Sears Roebuck and Co. was a precursor of sorts to e-commerce. Its massive catalogs were the stuff of which dreams were made – from the latest in fashion, to a desperately needed set of tires, to all those Star Wars action figures that were at the top of so many Christmas lists.

At one point in its history, Sears even sold prefabricated houses. Order the one you wanted, and a team soon arrived on your property to set up shop – I mean house.

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