Vincent Marshall Dodge City Globe
At the Dodge City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 18, the commissioners unanimously approved an amendment to its charter ordinance to designate the city’s website as the official newspaper of Dodge City.
Arguments made by City Manager Nick Hernandez were that the Dodge City Globe, the designated newspaper for the city currently, had missed public notice deadlines and further stated at the time of the meeting, “As you know, City newspaper publication and actual readership is down substantially. The legal services you need to pay now. This will actually help promote transparency within the city and allow us to do this at a lower cost and save money for the citizens. This is really the first step in this process.
“We will also have control over when they are published to ensure that we meet the dates that must be observed. We’ve had a few issues with these in the past, so this would definitely fix that.
At a meeting on Friday, February 11, city officials met with Globe officials where it was announced that the process of amending the charter ordinance will have to start again after approval at the city commission meeting. of February 21.
According to the city’s Chief Financial Officer, Nicole May, the process that must start over is due to the original ordinance listing Dodge City as a second-class city where the city is designated as a first-class city.
Therefore, the amendment to the charter ordinance will have to be returned to the city commission for another vote on the redesignation.
If approval is made, the city will need to publish the notice once a week for two weeks in the newspaper, and then after that second publication, it will take 61 days for the charter ordinance change to take effect.
But what does the fact that the city is changing its newspaper designation really mean?
According to the city’s public information officer, Abbey Martin, the city will still email press releases and all other notices with the notification system on its website.
“Our website will only be the official posting location for public notices,” Martin said Jan. 19 in an email.
But according to Kansas Press Association executive director Emily Bradbury, it’s not that simple.
Bradbury was asked if there were any benefits to a municipality designating their website as an official newspaper, to which she replied: ‘Quite honestly, there aren’t.
“Costs are sometimes quoted, but the costs are negligible compared to the staff time, maintenance of a secure website, monitoring, etc., required to issue public notices. “Online public notices are not free. Since the first US Congress, public officials have understood that newspapers are the best way to inform the public about official business because they contain the essential elements of public notice: accessibility, independence, auditability, and record keeping. Add Internet access barriers and security issues to the list, and you have a recipe for disaster.
According to Bradbury, the KPA conducted its own independent research study which found that more than 82% of Kansas adults read print or digital newspapers and 7 out of 10 Kansans believe public notices in the newspaper should be mandatory. .
“So if the goal is to keep the public informed, newspaper notice (print and online) is where it’s at,” Bradbury said.
On January 23, a series of questions were submitted to the city on this subject. On January 24, a response was made by Martin that the questions had been received and, “I am working to collect these responses.”
On February 7, The Globe emailed Martin about the status of those responses as nothing had been received at that time.
Martin responded on February 8, saying there was a problem with the ordinance and that a meeting needed to be arranged with the city and the Globe, which led to the February 11 meeting.
At the meeting on February 11, the question was asked to obtain an answer to the initial questions sent in January.
Deputy City Manager Melissa McCoy said the following week (February 14-18) those questions would be answered.
Due to printing delays, the Globe had to have the response to questions submitted by 5 p.m. on Thursday, February 17 to meet the Saturday, February 19 publication deadline.
Those responses arrived on time at 4:08 p.m. Thursday with responses from May and Martin.
For the city budget, according to May, the city has a budget account for publishing and printing that includes notices, “But not limited to them, it’s 0.11% of the total budget of the general fund.
When asked what the city’s surplus was in 2022, May replied: “As for the surplus, in the general fund, we are exactly where we planned to be at 1,700,000. $.”
For the city’s website, according to Martin, the site averages 2,219.5 daily active visitors and averages 2,151.2 unique visitors per day.
The city has also implemented a notification system on its website whenever it posts information on its site. According to Martin, there are 4,054 active subscribers to his notification system.
For those without internet access, Martin said: “We plan to still submit notices to the newspaper and advertise in the methods previously used as often as possible. The change will give us more control over the timing of notices that have taken lengths due to laws.
In the event of a hack or site crash, Martin said, “Our website is under contract with a third-party entity widely used across the country as a leading government web hosting and has had no crashes or of major hacks on our specific site in the last five years. However, we know the risk is still there, so we will continue to cross-post reviews.
At the Jan. 18 city commission meeting where the ordinance was voted on, city officials mentioned that many cities in Kansas are requesting or have passed similar ordinances regarding the redesignation.
According to Martin, the city of Concordia passed a similar ordinance in 2021.
“Pratt also embraced this type of order,” Martin said.
During the Feb. 11 meeting between city officials and the Globe, McCoy said the city based the change to the ordinance on discussions with the League of Municipalities which guided the city on how to proceed with the change.
McCoy reiterated that the change was due to the failed publication of notices, the Globe’s move to publishing three days a week, and costs to save taxpayers’ money.
However, despite the answers to the questions, a new question has arisen. How can the city, especially the city manager, claim to want to be transparent with the public when it takes him over three weeks to respond to the press?
Currently, the Dodge City Globe has 1,298 paying subscribers for its print publication, based on an internal audit conducted by the Globe. The audit did not show current online subscribers because once the Globe was officially onboarded to new owners CherryRoad Media on January 1, online readership was made free for the time being and no subscription data at website would not be available until the paywall comes back for paying subscribers.
At present, it is still unknown when the paywall will be reimplemented.
The Globe also offers 1,000 weekly Spanish newspapers distributed in Dodge City and Garden City (Del Suroeste) as well as 15,000 buyer’s advertisements which are distributed free each week in Dodge City, Garden City and Hays.
“I would suggest going ahead, if the city wants to reach the most eyes in Dodge City, include the buyer (for public notices) at a reduced price,” said the Globe’s advertising manager. , Lloyd Gum.
The Globe also has distributors for the newspaper’s print publication at all Dodge City gas stations except Love’s stores, as well as Walmart, Walgreens, and Dillons.
CherryRoad Media uses Google Analytics to monitor its website traffic.
At press time, the Dodge City Globe had 8,124 users over the past seven days, with 71.3% coming from desktop computers; 27.4% from mobile and 1.3% from tablet use.
From February 10-16, The Globe received 15,065 page views with 13,529 unique page views.
According to Google Analytics, a page view is the total number of pages viewed. Repeat views of a single page are counted.
A unique pageview is the number of sessions in which the specified page was viewed at least once. A unique page view is counted for each page (combination URL + page title).
If the finalization of the charter order passes, according to Bradbury, the trap is big.
“The pitfalls are many,” Bradbury said. “Requiring independent third-party newspapers to ensure that public notices are published in accordance with the law helps prevent government officials from hiding information they would prefer the public not to see.