BURLEY – Times-News advertising director Amber Tobiason made a plea to Burley City Council members on Tuesday asking them to consider their paper as a continued source for posting legal notices.
The topic of switching from the Times-News to the Weekly News Journal has been discussed at several recent council meetings. Past discussions surmised that the Weekly News Journal was the only newspaper that meets all the legal criteria for being the media source that should be used for posting legal notices placed by the city. However, due to the Weekly News Journal editor Jay Lenkersdorfer being an active council member, it was determined to be a conflict until such time as Lenkdersdorfer was no longer a councilman. Burley therefore utilized the Times-News for legal publications until the conflict was no longer an issue.
Now that Lenkersdorfer is no longer a city councilman, it was thought that the source for posting legal publications would be switched over to the Weekly News Journal. The process has already started and the second reading of an ordinance officially making this switch was also on Tuesday’s agenda.
It has been explained by city attorney Kelly Anthon in past council meetings that the reason the Times-News does not meet the legal criteria is due to the fact that they do not publish locally, but in fact, publish in Twin Falls.
Tobiason’s explanation in her presentation to the council was that the Times-News feels that this assertion that they do not meet the legal criteria is untrue and because they publish a separate “Mini-Cassia edition” of the Times-News they do legally publish locally. Tobiason also argued that because they have a satellite office here in town that further made their case that they were a local entity.
Tobiason shared that their subscriber rate more than meets the criteria of a minimum of 200 or more paid subscribers. She stated that their most recent audit shows that they have 3,318 Sunday subscribers and 2,310 weekly subscribers. Tobiason told the council that the Times-News is extremely committed to covering local news and information for Burley subscribers and stated that the Mini-Cassia edition featured articles and ads that were exclusive to the Mini-Cassia edition. Councilman John Craner apparently disagreed with this claim because he inquired of Tobiason why so often Twin Falls news items were featured on the front page. “[I take] the rubber band off and lay it down on the counter and consistently on the front page of the Mini-Cassia edition is information about the Twin Falls City Council which we could care less about,” said Craner.
Jay Lenkersdorfer was also present to answer questions and explained to the council that the key factor is the legal definition of publication that was set by an Idaho Supreme Court finding that occurred in 1988 involving the City of Ketchum and two newspaper companies who were seeking to be considered the legal news of record. “There was this same question that came up and was taken to the Idaho Supreme Court in the 80’s between the Mountain Express and the Wood River Journal and the discussion was ‘what does it mean to publish a newspaper?’ The Idaho Supreme Court said publishing a newspaper isn’t where you print it, it is where your main office is, essentially the office of your newspaper or the post office from which you would buy all your second class permits,” said Lenkdersdorfer. He explained that although the Times-News does provide a Mini-Cassia edition, they are actually published in Twin Falls and not in Burley.
The Burley City Attorney Kelly Anthon asked some clarification questions of Tobiason “Does the Mini-Cassia edition of the Times-News have it’s own second class permit for mailing or is it combined with the Times-News out of Twin Falls?” asked Anthon. “We’ve always used one permit,” answered Tobiason. Tobiason also clarified that the Twin Falls editor is also the editor for the Mini-Cassia edition and that all the ads are designed in the Twin Falls office. Tobiason stated the layout and printing is done in the Twin Falls office.
No decision was made by the council. The second reading of the ordinance changing the legal newspaper to the Weekly News Journal did occur as planned.