Times-Picayune loses local court’s legal notices after dropping daily publication

NOLA Defender | Orleans Parish Civil District Court
With The Times-Picayune planning to stop printing daily on Oct. 1, the clerk of civil district court for Orleans Parish has named Gambit, the weekly newspaper, its official publication for notices related to its proceedings. The change is effective Aug. 1. The Picayune’s shift to publishing three times a week necessitated a change in state law requiring certain legal notices to be published in a daily paper. The new law states that the publication carrying such notices must be printed at least weekly, and it must have had a circulation of at least 30,000 for the previous five years.

The clerk’s decision applies only to notices related to proceedings in civil court, such as matters related to estates.

The Lens’ Tom Gogola reported in June that the new law could affect up to $7 million in revenue from state and local governments:

Orleans Parish remains the only parish in Louisiana that requires public notices to run in daily newspapers. The amended law was “condoned by everyone except The Times-Picayune,” State Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said Monday.

Morrell said the lion’s share of the money generated by public notices is spent in New Orleans by the city and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office – up to $6 million a year in advertising revenue, he said. The rest, between $500,000 and $1 million a year, is the state’s typical share of public-notice ad buys.

Earlier: Newspapers’ legal ad revenue jeopardized by cash-strapped states, online competitors (Poynter) || Related: Advance’s Alabama Media Group names leadership team (AL.com); front-page news for The Birmingham News and The Huntsville Times (Newseum).

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  • http://twitter.com/The_Gambit Gambit

    Gambit did not get selected to publish the sheriff’s judicial notices in either Orleans Parish or Jefferson Parish.  We did submit proposals to both sheriffs.  The TP was again selected in Orleans, and CityBusiness remains the publisher in Jefferson — but both both had to cut their rates substantially to keep the business.   

    The TP had to cut its rate in Orleans by more than 50 percent to keep the business — from $1.57 per agate line to about 73¢ an agate line.  AS a result, the TP will likely make more than $500,000 LESS than what it made last year.  This is based on information supplied to us by Sheriff Gusman’s office — that the sheriff paid the TP more than $1 million last year at the rate of $1.57 per agate line.  Cutting that rate more than in half means reduced revenue of at least $500,000 — assuming the number of judicial notices remains more or less the same.  

    Regarding the dollar value attributed to judicial notices, The Lens has reported that they are worth $7 million.  That figure may be accurate STATEWIDE, but in Orleans Parish it is far less — slightly more than $1 million, according to the sheriff’s office. 

    Gambit did get selected as the legal notices publisher by the Clerks of Court for Orleans and Jefferson, and by the constables of First City Court and Second City Court in New Orleans.  Under state law, each judicial officer — sheriffs, clerks, constables, etc. — who is responsible for placing legal notices is authorized to select a qualified publisher for those notices. These notices typically are far fewer in number and length than the sheriffs’ notices and thus do not generate the kind of revenue that sheriffs’ notices generate, but Gambit is happy to be able to offer its services for these notices.

  • Wendy Contos

    How very sad. The Picayune has shot itself in the foot,

  • MM

    What a joke! A newspaper with 30,000 subscribers is considered public notice enough for Orelans Parish? Why not save all of the money and take the notices out of print and put them on a web site as many municipalities already have? This is not a revelation for the Newhouse family. They are worth billions because they make the correct business decisions. I’m sure that they budgeted for the loss of legal notices. They knew that soon, the gravy train of printed public notices revenue will be legislated away just as classified advertising revenue did. So why not take the hit now? The reduced printing and distribution costs more than makes up for the loss of public notices.