Survey can help keep public notice ads in newspapers


The Hoosier State Press Association continues to work on a public notice advertising survey.

Some questions are being tweaked at the suggestion of state legislators.

HSPA hired American Opinion Research to conduct the survey of Hoosier attitudes toward public notice advertising, also known as legals.

The association asked for input from lawmakers to give them confidence that the results are not skewed to favor the newspaper industry.

“The survey would be meaningless if legislators felt the questions were leading to get a desired result,” said Steve Key, executive director and general counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association. “We want to capture the thoughts of Hoosiers on public notice advertising, not what we want them to think.”

Lawmakers reviewing the questions include State Sens. Randy Head, R-Logansport, and Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, and State Reps. Randy Mahan, R-Hartford City, and Jerry Torr, R-Carmel.

HSPA decided to conduct the survey after a high number of bills introduced during the past two legislative sessions attacked the concept of publication of public notices as the best way to inform Hoosiers about what state and local government units are doing or contemplating.

American Opinion Research of Princeton, N.J., also conducted a statewide readership survey for HSPA in 2004. The poll included questions about public notice advertising.

The pollsters will collect 1,000 15-minute interviews of Hoosiers, including sessions conducted via the Internet, cell phones and landline phones to reflect the diversity of how people communicate.

In American Opinion Research’s 2004 HSPA survey, the majority of Hoosiers (73 percent) said local and state government units should be required to publish public notice advertising regularly in newspapers.

More than two-thirds of Hoosiers surveyed recalled seeing public notices in a newspaper. Of those, more than seven in 10 said they read notices.

Of those who read public notices, seven in 10 read them sometimes, often or always.

When asked what impact moving public notices from newspapers to the Internet would have, 62 percent reported they would read public notices less often or much less often.

The survey, scheduled for completion by the fall, should counter state legislators’ misconceptions about public notice advertising.

HSPA believes the results will again show Hoosiers want public notices in newspapers, Key said.