Public Notices

It has come to the attention of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) that a request has been submitted for a Legislative Council Study dealing with the publication of public notices in newspapers. The request asks for a review of current newspaper public notice publication practices in light of “new technologies”.

The WNA respectfully submits that a review of the current practices surrounding the publication of public notices in newspapers as it pertains to new technologies has been done by the Wisconsin Legislature as recently as 2012.

Specifically, the WNA and the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) developed and the legislature passed public notice publication reform in 2012 that accomplished the following:

1. Streamlined the DOA administrative oversight certification program of newspaper publication of notices;

2. Implemented a standard type face for print publication of all notices that resulted in statewide cost savings for units of state and local government; and

3. Mandated that any newspaper publishing public notices must, at no additional cost to government, upload all notices, in real time, to the statewide public notice website ( that is maintained and subsidized by the Wisconsin newspaper industry.

Wisconsin is arguably the leading state in the nation when it comes to the technology applied to the tracking of every public notice published by a governmental entity. In 2005 the WNA launched — a comprehensive, searchable public notice website.

The website is available to all citizens of the State of Wisconsin offering direct links to public notices that were first published in Wisconsin newspapers. Every public notice from every newspaper published since 2005 can be found on the newspaper industry website in an easy-touse, searchable platform. is totally subsidized by the newspapers of the State of Wisconsin. There is no added cost to government for the placement of notices on the website; or for maintaining the vast (ten year) public notice archive housed on the website.

How do we do it? The process is one of cooperation and commitment on the part of Wisconsin newspapers. Every day/week every newspaper in Wisconsin that is statutorily eligible to publish public notices uploads all of its pages to the newspaper archive maintained by the WNA.

On those pages appear public notices that have been coded by the newspaper during the lay-out of the newspaper. The code that appears on every public notice allows the WNA’s search technology to identify every notice that appears on every page of the newspaper.

The newspaper industry is the only entity capable of aggregating every public notice required by law to be published; while providing government with an enhanced and comprehensive public information tracking service. takes the newspaper industries longstanding partnership with government a step further by enhancing government’s reach to today’s online readers; saving citizens the task of searching many sites for one notice.

The rates that are paid to Wisconsin newspapers for the print publication of public notices are determined and adjusted annually by the Wisconsin Department of Administration. In many instances the rate that is paid to a newspaper does not cover the cost of the space had it been occupied by a retail advertiser.


Beth Bennett

Executive Director

Wisconsin Newspaper


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