Letter to the editor
Newspapers in Wisconsin want the public to be very concerned about a bill moving through the state legislature: Assembly Bill 70. I agree that the public should be concerned but more about the disinformation being circulated about this bill than by the bill itself.
The ads and editorials that have appeared in newspapers recently are exactly what I mean. The ad insisted that, “Your right to know … may be going away,” meaning that if the bill passes, parents and the public will no longer know what goes on in the schools.
As if the schools are suddenly going to stop communicating with parents. As if school board meetings will suddenly become closely guarded secrets. As if the newspapers themselves plan to stop reporting on what goes on in the schools and school board meetings.
Assembly Bill 70 simply removes a state mandate that forces local governments to pay the newspapers to print the minutes of their meetings. Those minutes must still be made public. The state simply will not be forcing local governments to pay newspapers to print them anymore. There is nothing in this bill that will keep a school or municipality from printing their notices in the newspaper.
Local governments can still pay the newspaper to print their minutes if they choose. They simply will not be forced to. Newspapers, likewise, can still print those minutes if they choose. I realize the newspapers still have loyal readers, and this certainly is not meant to allow schools and municipalities to have a way out of informing the public.
I do not blame the newspapers for looking out for their own interests. I do the same in my industry.
Of course, nothing would keep newspapers from actually printing these public notices for free if they so choose. I am sure the school district and municipalities would provide them with the information so they can do that.
State Representative, 69th Assembly District