By Dennis Hetzel, Executive Director
Ohio’s public notice laws are very important to the public, even if their elected representatives don’t always appreciate that, and very important to ONA members. The laws also can be confusing and ambiguous. They’re peppered throughout thousands of pages of statutes as well.
The latest addition is the PowerPoint on the law that ONA counsel Lou Colombo and I presented to a group of ONA members during a workshop earlier this week. The presentation is, we think, clear and helpful. It also lists some of our future concerns and plans, particularly the reasoning for why we would like our website, PublicNoticesOhio.com, to replace the state-run notices website as the official site for digital public notices in our state.
There were some good questions from those attending that we will use to refine our FAQ. We recently released a major update to our “Frequently Asked Questions” document about public notice laws that focuses on the areas we are asked most often about – what rates newspaper can charge and what are the qualifications to be eligible to publish notices in Ohio. You also will find that link on the “members only” page.
Also available for downloading is our searchable guide to many of the public notice requirements in Ohio statutes. We will be performing some revisions to the guide soon to make it more complete. It is a very useful starting point to identify what notices your local governmental bodies are supposed to follow and the requirements of those notices.
Finally, we urge you to make use of the excellent ads that promote the importance of public notices in newspapers. We have several available for downloading in various sizes, color and black-and-white. You can add your local newspaper logo and use them in other ways as you see fit.
We added a new slide to this year’s presentation on four things you can do to help affirm the importance of public notices to your readers and public officials. Here is the list:
- Encourage your reporters and editors to use public notices for story ideas and point out when stories come from notices.
- Improve display, presentation and Web linkage to your public notices in all print and digital products. And don’t call them “legal notices” in your classified titles. Call them “public notices.”
- Keep your rates competitive and affordable; provide great service to your government advertisers.
- Make use of the ONA ads that promote the importance of public notices in newspapers.
As always, if you have questions about Ohio’s laws in this important area or just need advice on dealing with local officials, don’t hesitate to contact us. I can be reached at 614-486-6677 or email@example.com. We also can schedule presentations on this topic as well as Ohio’s laws on open records and open meetings at your newspaper if you see such a need.