Transparency is of paramount importance in a democratic society.
But there are apparently certain elected officials who believe transparency should be limited to citizens who have internet access.
On January 23, Rep. Johnathan Strickland of Bedford introduced a bill that would allow counties, cities, school and hospital districts and other political subdivisions to forgo the publication of public notices in newspapers. The House Technology Committee, is expected to consider the issue in the next 10 days.
Currently, such entities are required - by law - to publish items like notices of public hearings.
It could be argued that Strickland's bill could have the greatest impact on the elderly, poor, minorities and rural residents, who are statistically less likely to have Internet access than other groups. Communities like our own.
Eliminating print notices would effectively disenfranchise these citizens from civic involvement.
Strickland's bill is not the first - this has been tried before, and the debate is not limited to the state of Texas.
Still, Strickland surmises the current law is outdated. He cites a survey by the Pew Research Center that found only 23 percent of Americans read newspapers, ranking last behind television, radio and Internet.
No doubt people in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle are more likely to get their news from a glowing box than a news stand.
But Srickland should look a little closer to home when providing statistics. Communities like Glen Rose do not have their own television news stations. Texas has many communities that are largely rural where a fair number of citizens in those areas still read newspapers at coffee shops and talk about what's going on down the street. These are the same people who are not sitting in rush hour traffic relying on their smartphones to catch up on news.
Currently, the Reporter has a circulation that is growing closer to 3,000 readers. While not all readers live within the city limits, that number is greater than the population of Glen Rose. It is also almost one-third of the population of Somervell County.
Studies also show individuals or organizations who subscribe to newspapers are more likely to be involved in their local communities - and more likely to vote.
Yes, newspapers do charge for public notices. But there is little-to-no profit in that end of our business. Law requires newspapers publish public notices at the lowest rate. The fees help defray the hard costs of paper, ink, delivery and the personnel cost of producing the pages.
If notices were only available on government websites, they would be seen only by citizens who actively seek them out and are aware of each of the myriad of governmental entities whose sites they should scour for notices - the greater Houston area alone has almost 500 entities.
For many newspaper professionals, it's not about a buck, but it's a bad idea.