At last week’s County Commission meeting I asked Dr. Doug Given if he would be interested in providing a story for our readers detailing the accomplishments of Brigadier General Kemp McLaughlin. I was delighted when he agreed. I was even more excited when I checked my email late last week and found the article that appears on this week’s front page.
I think few people in the community know of General McLaughlin, the part he played in World War II or the lasting contributions he made to West Virginia’s Guard units. General McLaughlin is a true American hero. We should all be proud that he has such deep Braxton County ties.
The Legislature is again attacking newspapers. Within the last few days two bills seek to reduce the public’s right to know. Last session, the move was to eliminate legal ads from newspapers altogether. The public quickly realized that without such important public notices being available in each county where it needed to be seen the most, was not in their best interests. This year the movement is to cut the compensation which newspapers receive for legal ads and the number of times it is available to readers.
HB-3082, sponsored by Delegate John Hardy, R – Berkeley, would reduce the rate a newspapers could charge to 4 cents per word. Currently, the rate is 7 to 14 cents per word depending on the publication’s circulation. The current rates in many instances add up to less than the retail rate for advertising. It is often insufficient to cover the costs of preparing complex legal advertisements. However, newspapers recognize their obligation to keep the public informed and the importance of legal notices to our readers.
HB 2637 — from Delegate Geoff Foster, R – Kanawha, would make the second and third publication of a legal in newspapers optional. The legal could instead be placed on a state website.
Of course, most of this comes as a result of various newspapers criticizing elected officials. They would rather get even than consider the diminished notification to taxpayers of their obligations. The move will also undoubtedly lead to more cuts… recent history shows that they wouldn’t be satisfied until they get their way.
I will be traveling to Charleston on Thursday for the Press Association’s legislative reception. This will be our first attempt to visit with legislators in the evening. We have always chosen a breakfast format. However, this year the Senate Republican Caucus decided to meet daily in the morning. Could that have been another jab at the state’s newspaper industry? Hopefully the reception at the Culture Center will be productive.