Friday, March 04, 2016
NorCo Takes Aim at Newspaper Advertising Costs
This change deals with the County's advertising for jobs among its career service, or nonunion employees. Under the County's Home Rule Charter, job vacancies are posted on bulletin boards at County buildings, and must also be advertised in at least two newspapers of general circulation within the County. Council wants to eliminate the requirement to advertise these jobs or even post them on bulletin boards.
"The place to do advertising now is Monster," said John Cusick, referring to a popular job search website. He noted that the Internet has made newspaper ads unnecessary, and that the Intranet, accessible only by County employees, has replaced the bulletin boards.
Ken Kraft observed that when the Home Rule Charter was first adopted in 1978, he was a newspaper delivery boy for one of four daily newspapers then in circulation in the Lehigh Valley. Now there are just two.
Controller Steve Barron informed Council that the County has paid the following advertising expenses to the two remaining dailies:
Morning Call (since 98) $1,957,257.19
Average $115,132.79 per year
So far in 2016: $11,298.16
Express Times (since 98) $1,582,021.09
Average $93,060.06 per year
So far in 2016: $4,694.24
"On average per year between the two papers we pay $208,192.85," concluded Barron. "If we eliminate the requirements to advertise in two papers of general circulation we would get rid of a good portion of that expense."
In addition to paying to advertise at the dailies, Northampton County provides office space to both daily newspapers at no charge, even though both newspapers have substantially reduced their coverage of both counties as a result of layoffs plaguing the newspaper industry. Neither Lehigh County nor Monroe County make these kinds of accommodations to the press.
Currently, the newspapers are housed in offices next to Barron. He told Council, "They left their lights on in my building this evening when I got there at 5:45. The cleaning people did not do it as they were in the building when I left last night after the meeting. We give them office space, pay them fees for advertising the least they can do is turn off the lights when they leave at the end of the day."