66 Op. Att'y Gen. 230 (1977)
66 OAG 230  231  232  END

Wisconsin Attorney General Opinions

Opinion # OAG 65-77

3 August 1977.

Newspapers, Open Meeting;

Requirements of notice given to
newspapers under Section 19.84(1)(b)
and 19.84(3), Stats., discussed.

66 OAG 230  231  232  END

Publisher and General Manager
Union Co-operative Publishing Company

You ask what duties are imposed on a
newspaper to publish notice when given to the
newspaper by a governmental body as provided
by Section 19.84(1)(b), Stats.

Section 19.84, Stats., provides
in part as follows:


   Public notice of all meetings of a
   governmental body shall be given in
   the following manner: . . .


   By communication from the chief
   presiding officer of a governmental body
   or such person's designee to the public,
   to those news media who have filed a
   written request for such notice, and
   to the official newspaper designated
   under Sections 985.04, 985.05 and 985.06
   or, if none exists, to a news medium
   likely to give notice in the area.

A governmental body, thus, must give notice
to the public (by posting in the courthouse
or other place frequented by the public),
to the requesting news media, to the
official newspaper (daily or weekly),
but if none exists, to a news medium
(newspaper, radio, television)

   "likely to give notice in the area."

As to the newspaper, official or otherwise
the governmental body has satisfied the
statutory requirement by giving timely
notice of its meeting to the newspaper.

When the governmental body transmits
a meeting notice to the newspaper,
the newspaper is not obliged
to publish the notice.

Further, the governmental body is not obliged
to pay for publication of such notice as in
the case of an official legal notice.

The governmental body would be required
to publish legal notice in a newspaper
only if required by another statute.

Section 19.84(1)(a), Stats.

The publishing schedule of a
particular newspaper does not
dictate the giving of notice.

The statute governs notice.

Section 19.84(3), Stats., provides:


   Public notice of every meeting
   of a governmental body shall
   be given at least 24 hours
   prior to the commencement
   of such meeting unless for
   good cause such notice is
   impossible or impractical,
   in which case shorter notice
   may be given, but in no case
   may the notice be provided
   less than 2 hours in
   advance of the meeting.

66 OAG 230  231  232  END

Where a newspaper or other news media publish
notices of meetings of governmental bodies as
a public service, however, a governmental
body is well advised to submit notices of
meetings, or better yet notices of meetings
plus agenda thereof, well in advance of the
minimum 24-hour requirement in order to take
advantage of the news media's public service
policy, especially when the news media
publishes only weekly.

Upon receipt of a notice of a meeting of a
governmental body not required to be
published as a legal notice, the newspaper,
thereupon, may publish notice of the meeting
as a public service, dispatch a reporter to
cover the meeting or possibly answer
inquiries by the public about the meeting.


66 OAG 230  231  232  END