Politics & Government

Bill sponsors say they’re trying to save governments money, not kill newspapers

Press advocates say a pair of N.C. bills could hurt newspapers by siphoning revenues. In this 2016 file photo, USA Today, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers are displayed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, in Chicago.
Press advocates say a pair of N.C. bills could hurt newspapers by siphoning revenues. In this 2016 file photo, USA Today, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers are displayed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, in Chicago. AP

Sen. Trudy Wade hasn’t always been a fan of the media, but she said that’s not why she introduced a bill that’s being fought by the N.C. Press Association.

The Greensboro Republican is a lead sponsor of a bill that would no longer require local governments to run legal notices – such as foreclosure and government contract announcements – in newspapers, and instead let them run notices online.

Like many legislators, the Greensboro Republican has been critical of the media. Two years ago the Greensboro News & Record criticized her for legislation that sought to redraw the city’s voting districts. Wade told a reporter at the time that “the media has changed over the years.”

“In my opinion,” she said at the time, “they tend to try to draw a line down the middle and lump (people) on one side or the other.”

But the three-term lawmaker said that’s not why she’s pushing the bill.

“I have been straightforward about why I filed this bill,” she said in a statement. “It provides those who cannot afford or who do not wish to subscribe to a newspaper with free access to important information, and, as a former county commissioner and city council woman, it is an idea I have supported since the N.C. League of Municipalities and the N.C. County Commissioners Association first brought their legislative agendas to me several years ago.”

Wade

Wade is a prime sponsor of Senate Bill 343 along with fellow Republicans Dan Bishop of Charlotte and Wesley Meredith of Fayetteville.

In the House, Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville is sponsoring a companion bill along with GOP Reps. Bill Brawley of Matthews and John Blust of Greensboro.

Like Wade, McGrady has sat on a city council and county board.

“We’re spending a lot of money on newspapers…” he said. “I’m not in the business of subsidizing anybody I hope.”

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill

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