Invest in Democracy

By James J. Devine

Speaking on legislation that would allow legal notices to be posted on government websites instead of requiring publication in newspapers, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick of Westfield said, “I thought this was a no-brainer.”

New Jersey needs to elect lawmakers who will do a little more thinking instead of seeking ‘no-brain’ solutions to society’s complex problems.


When government declares war on newspapers, the public ends up losing.

The simple fact is, while government cannot be trusted to police itself and newspapers have served as an essential component in the democratic process, the main reason this is a bad idea is because it will not save taxpayers any money.

“This (bill) is the opposite of optimization,” said Stephen Borg, publisher of The Record, who explained that finding savings would be difficult because legal requirements would necessitate more work for government officials.

More than a few political figures have strong anti-newspaper motivations.

The unintentional consequences of closing down small newspapers might be the real purpose for the bill.

Internet accessibility and reliability remain questionable and unlike a newspaper ad, information posted online can be changed after the fact.

Seniors and poor people who read the paper would be excluded from the communications about government, jobs, and contracts because they lack Internet access.

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter,” wrote Thomas Jefferson. “But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Canceling any expense sounds like a great idea until the effects are considered.

Spending to keep the public informed is an investment in democracy, which might seem like a waste of money to political insiders but thinking citizens should believe it is worth the cost of preserving.

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