Sunday, March 22, 2009

Hard times at the Missoulian

The Missoulian whines about losing county legal notices to the Missoula Independent (h/t Matt Singer. As you may recall, the Outpost lost out on Yellowstone County legals last year, despite submitting the low bid, based on similar concerns raised by Yellowstone County commissioners.

Our argument remains:

1. People who read legals will go where the legals are.

2. No. 1 is especially true when they can go where the legals are for free.

3. Lots of people read the Outpost who will never shell out for a Gazette subscription. And those numbers are increasing steadily.

4. As more and more legals readers migrate to the web, whatever edge the daily might have continues to diminish.

5. Competition holds costs down.

So why not save taxpayers a few bucks?

UPDATE: In comments to this post, I said that I didn't know the status of a bill this session that would allow free newspapers to print legal notices for cities and towns as well as for counties. According to the Montana Newspaper Association, that bill (SB296) has been sent to the governor for his signature.


Anonymous said...

Nice to see the little guys win one! Especially after Lee Enterprises used anti-competitive agreements with advertisers like supermarkets and such to prohibit free weeklies from distributing at those same supermarkets. What goes around, comes around.

Anonymous said...

Its no diferent than Yellowstone County rotating indigent burials between the local funeral homes rather than giving the business to the lowest bidder/provider.

David said...

Actually, it is different because only one newspaper is in this rotation.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Billings Times had the contract for the legals.

David said...

Anonymous 1249,
The Billings Times has the contract for the city's legal notices, not the county's. Last session, the Legislature opened up county legals to free weeklies but left city legals alone, which means neither we nor the Independent can bid on city legals. The Independent's Matt Gibson was working on a bill this session to get city legals opened up to free weeklies, but I'm not sure where the bill stands.