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The public's right to know

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This week October 7-13 is National Newspaper Week with the theme "Public Notices in Newspapers...Because good government depends on it."

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The following information shared by the North Dakota Newspaper Association sums up the importance of public notices and shares another means of accessing the information.

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Public notices have long been part of the fundamental self-governance of our democratic society.

As early as in Benjamin Franklin's "Pennsylvania Gazette," public notices have been an important part of this country's newspapers. According to Professor Charles Allen of Oklahoma State University, "the history of public notice is part of the history of man's civilization . . . Word of mouth, and later, posting on the public square were crude methods used in early civilizations."

Since the beginning of statehood, North Dakota's Legislatures have recognized that in North Dakota and, indeed, in America, each of us has a right to information about government, and about activities that touch our lives as a result of government actions. Thus, state and local governments since their beginnings have designated newspapers to serve as the official record for posting public notices.

In a recent study, almost 77 percent of North Dakotans responded "yes" to the question: "Should state and local governments be required to publish public notices on a regular basis?" In the same survey, over 73 percent of all newspaper readers said they read public notices."

Newspapers will continue to provide this valuable service to readers long into the future. Now, the same notices will be available to individuals with access to the Internet on this site, www.ndpublicnotices.com. This site is provided, at no extra cost to the government agencies that issue the notices, by the North Dakota Newspaper Association.

The printed word - the permanent record provided by newspapers - will not be replaced, but only enhanced by this additional means of information dissemination.

Public notices provide the assurance that the "Public's Right To Know" will continue to serve as the cornerstone of democracy - that the best government is government open and responsive to the people it serves.

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