published on January 22, 2019 - 11:02 AM
Written by Gordon Webster, Jr.

If you are the average newspaper reader, there’s a chance you skip past the public notice section on your way to the obituaries or crossword puzzle.

For others, it is required reading. There have been instances when these notices have gone above and beyond their highest purpose to save homes and businesses. This story from niemanreports.org, the publication of the journalism advocacy group Nieman Foundation, lays out those very situations.

In 2017, a 100-year-old widow would have lost her Carmel, California, condo if it weren’t for a friend who saw a foreclosure notice in the paper. She contacted an attorney, who was able to stay the proceedings through bankruptcy.

In another example from last year, an Iowa pharmacist saw via a legal notice that a national pharmacy chain was overcharging a local jail for medication. The chain was actually buying the medications from him and then marking up the cost. He raised a stink and was able to cut out the middle man.

As you may or may not know, legislators have threatened public notice advertising in newspapers under the guise of cost-cutting. The Nieman Foundation rebuts that argument and others. It’s worth a read, just be sure to read your local public notices first.

You never know what you might find.


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