Kathy Malm lives on a ranch in Central Kansas. “Some folks might not know this,” she says, “but having effective water districts is a big deal out in the country. Anytime the county is doing something that will affect the land we live on and the animals we care for, we need to know.”
The legal notices in her local newspaper are an essential part of Kathy's daily routine — she reads them to know what’s happening in her community. She’s also the Vice President of Sales at CherryRoad Media, one of the country's largest, fastest-growing media enterprise companies. Every day, Kathy makes decisions about how best to manage the public notice process for papers. Across the country, proposed legislation threatens the ongoing publication of legals by local media, and Kathy is one of many adamant that newspapers remain the primary distributors of this important public information — as opposed to the government websites trying to replace them.
The problem has always been that the process of publishing public notices is cumbersome. Not only does it bog down staff, it also puts at risk the continued existence of legals in newspapers by frustrating the governments, law firms and citizens required to file them.
Last year, Kathy decided that CherryRoad needed a new system. In January, she found the solution in a software company called Column. CEO Jake Seaton founded Column as a mission-driven public benefit company to fortify the future of public notice. Column offers all of its technology tools to publishers for free and generates revenue from a small processing fee paid by the individual placing the notice.
Of course, there was a reason for Kathy to be skeptical of any new digital platform. “For newspapers, it’s a scary thought to give away a piece of your business to a vendor,” Kathy explains. “In the past, it’s not been a smart move.” But after hearing why Jake started Column, Kathy’s trust began to build. Jake was the fifth generation of a newspaper family. Like Kathy, he watched the internet disrupt the news industry; he witnessed his family’s newspaper profit margins plummet amidst the pressure of an increasingly digital world.
“I knew that Column’s tool was something we needed to pursue to create a solid structure for legals moving forward,” Kathy reflects.
Once CherryRoad started using Column, “staff could reallocate their time to focus on more valuable tasks.” Kathy describes how Column helps publishers maintain compliance with changing regulations, offers keyword search, and is customized according to each individual paper’s needs. The bulk affidavit processing tool also organizes the entire affidavit process, “which staff particularly love.”
Kathy and the Column team agree — having access to open information streams and holding governments accountable to transparency allows citizens to more effectively engage in their communities. “We need to take every opportunity to make sure that newspapers continue to be where legals are placed,” Kathy says. “Column helps us make a strong case for why local media should remain the distributors of public notice. Column’s key to ensuring that future.”
Enterprise | Column
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