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Proudly Serving Maryland, Delaware and D.C. Newspapers Since 1908

Why do we need public notices?

Citizens must have access to information concerning government activities and civil proceedings. Legal notices published in newspapers provide this opportunity since the public has a right to know. These publications are an effective instrument because they have become the traditional source of public notices. Newspapers function as a neutral third party and are objective in their publishing of legal notices.Public notices in newspapers are a vital element of an open government. To assure governmental transparency, a record of its actions should be published in the most accessible format available to the public — newspapers.

MDDC aggregates the public notices of its members by aggregating them in one place, www.mddcnews.com, in the context of other news and information that interests the public.  By providing this outlet for members and the public, MDDC is a guardian of open government and protector of our member papers' role as a trusted, valuable community resource.

Best practices for public noticeAmerican Traditions cover

Our members stand for transparency in government actions.  Public notices are key to transparency, along with FOIA and Open Meetings laws because they prevent official actions from occurring in secret.  Public notices serve to make the wider public aware of actions that may affect or interest them.

The government should not be the sole provider of information about its activities, no matter the publication format.

The “gold standard” of public notice requires that notices are:

  • Published independently of the government entity or organization they concern. 
  • Published in print and online.  MDDC members publish notices in print AND online on their websites.
  • In a readable and accessible format.  Readers see public notices in the context of other news and information they look for in news publications.
  • Archivable to provide proof of publication.  Newspapers additionally provide an affidavit of publication if requested.

Public notices are required to be published in newspapers of general circulation because these venues (now both print and online) reach the largest number of people in the community, while offering an easily archivable and verifiable outlet to make sure the notice was published when and how it was intended.  Further, newspapers display notices in the context of other news and information that people in the community read.  Newspapers and their associated websites are the appropriate forums for notices that affect citizens and the general public.

MDDC Members, click here for a printable copy of these best practices.

Learn more at the Public Notice Resource Center

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