The Indiana Publisher

March 2020 IP

Hoosier State Press Association - The Indiana Publisher

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In the worst of times, newspa- pers rise to the occasion. While everyone struggles to understand "flattening the curve" and social distancing, who will provide them with the information about what is happening in their community? Who will explain what steps the county health department has instituted to deal with COVID-19? Who will explain what steps the hospital's emergency room and doctor's office have taken to deal with requests for a coronavirus test? Who will tell residents whether there are any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in your community? Who will assure Hoosiers that the shelves of stores remain stocked, maybe not with hand sanitizers, but the essentials needed while people try to stay at home as much as possible? Who will tell them that the pharmacies remain open to fill Ruth Witmer Hoosier State Press Association Public notices are important resources for keeping readers informed about groups and businesses in the community — even more so when they are developed into stories. Earlier this month, a couple of notices caught the eye of Jessica Bricker, editor of the News-Banner in Bluffton. The notices arrived in an email to be published in the paper and indicated that there was an issue with two area grain companies. Bricker consulted with Glen Werling at the News-Banner who puts together the paper's weekly ag page. The companies' licenses had been suspended and they were prevented from buying grain from farmers. The information might have only been printed in notice form. "Instead it went across the top of the front page," Bricker said. "I think it was more helpful that way." Bricker's story illustrates how public notices can be expanded Publisher The Indiana Volume 85, Issue 3 • March 2020 Published on second Thursday monthly Newspapers rise to challenge, play vital role in times of crisis In the final hours of the 2020 Indiana General Assembly, legislators reduced the amount of information about both school academic perfor- mance and financial performance. The vast majority of legislators probably had no clue that the annual financial report had been added into H.B. 1003. Language reducing the publication of the August school financial report to a summary and reference to a website to see the entire financial report was added during a meeting between bill author and sponsor, Rep. Jack Jordan, R-Bremen, and Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond, and two House Republi- can policy staffers. The meeting was to work out a conference committee report for H.B. 1003. When H.B. 1003 left the House, it contained language reducing the publication of the March school performance report to a summary and website reference. The Senate Education and Workforce Development Committee with Sen. Raatz as chairman, eliminated the school performance report language from the bill. Raatz told Steve Key, HSPA's executive director and general counsel, that he intended to work with Rep. Jordan and interested parties on what a summary should include, which would become a bill for the 2021 General Assembly. Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, who chairs the House Education Committee, had told Key he wanted summary language in H.B. 1003 when it left the House while conceding the House language did not specify what should be included in any summary – leaving it Legislative Update Publication requirement of school reports reduced in session's final hours See Crisis, page 3 Public notices prompt paper's look at grain company suspensions Be proud of the role you fill in a democracy and make your community proud of the way you fulfilled your role when this crisis passes. See Update, page 2 See Public notice, page 12

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