For the most part, California public notice law has not been changed or altered since its inception in 1943. In that time, “newspapers” have seen a dramatic decline in subscribers, readership and circulation as the citizens of California are finding their news on the internet; on social media, on newspaper or broadcaster websites, or on hyperlocal news and information sites such as this one, which serve the communities relevant to the legal notices. Many of the definitions which were codified in 1943 do not apply to digital media. Where publication is defined by installments, daily or weekly, modern day websites are in publication and available continuously, as an example.
The shift to online news has even affected broadcast news. For example, the CNN cable news network reaches 91 million viewers in the US, annually. The CNN news website, CNN.COM, reaches 200 million visitors each month.
Just last week, The Sacramento Bee laid off many of its writing and producing staff. Circulation of it’s daily newspaper product has fallen precipitously as the public moves it’s attention to the more easily, highly accessible internet. Today’s readers are not limited to the once-daily (or weekly) newspaper, receiving information which is often eight or more hours old by the time it’s collected, collated, printed and distributed. Today’s readers are reading news as it happens. As it’s collected and published online, on their smartphones, tablets, computers and digital voice assistants.
It’s time to change the California code to provide timely digital accessibility to the publishers and readers of critical public notices.