Newspaper Publication

Information Memo

Published: May 1, 2024

Qualified newspapers

Newspapers come in various types, from local city newsletters to “qualified newspapers”. State law requires cities to publish certain information. Even when publication is not required, cities may choose to publish to keep the public well-informed.

When any of the following terms are used in a statute that refers to the publication of public notice, they refer to a qualified newspaper:

  • A qualified legal newspaper.
  • A legal newspaper.
  • An official newspaper.
  • A newspaper.
  • A medium of official and legal publication (Minn. Stat. § 331A.01, subd. 8).

A newspaper must meet the following criteria to be a qualified newspaper (Minn. Stat. § 331A.02, subd. 1(a)-(j)):

  • It must be printed in English, in a newspaper format, and in a column and sheet form equivalent in printed space to at least 800 square inches.
  • If a daily paper, it must be published and distributed at least five days each week, or four days in any week in which there is a legal holiday.
  • If not a daily paper, it may be published and distributed at least twice a month.
  • In at least half of the issues each year, no more than 75% of its printed space can be advertising material and paid public notices.
  • In all its issues each year, 25% (if published more often than weekly) or 50% (if published weekly) of its news columns must be devoted to news of local interest.
  • Not more than 25% of its total non-advertising column inches in any issue may wholly duplicate any other publication unless the duplicated material is from general-news services.
  • It must be of general circulation in the area to which a public notice is directed, or where there is a reasonable likelihood that the person to whom it is directed will become aware of the notice.
  • It must have its known office of issue located in either the city that is publishing the notice, the county in which that city lies, or an adjoining county.
  • The newspaper must file a copy of each issue promptly with the MN Historical Society.
  • It must be made available at single or subscription prices to anyone requesting the newspaper and making the applicable payment, or be distributed without charge to local residents.
  • The newspaper must comply with all of the above requirements for at least one year immediately preceding the date of the notice of publication.
  • It must publish a sworn U.S. Post Office periodicals-class statement of ownership and circulation between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 of each year. As an alternative, the newspaper may publish a statement of ownership and circulation verified by a recognized independent circulation auditing agency covering a period of not less than one year, ending no earlier than the June 30 preceding the publication deadline.

Designating a newspaper

Cities generally designate an official newspaper where they will publish notices.

Cities may enter multi-year contracts with a qualified newspaper, but no contract may be for longer than three years (Minn. Stat. § 331A.06, subd. 5).

Statutory cities

Statutory city councils must designate an official newspaper at their first meeting each year. The official newspaper is used for all items that are legally required to be published. It should also be used for other matters that the council deems to be in the public interest. The official newspaper must be a legal newspaper of general circulation in the city (Minn. Stat. § 412.831).

A statutory city may change its designation of an official newspaper at times other than the first meeting of the year (A.G. Op. 471-G (Mar. 19, 1962)).

All cities

Official newspapers must be chosen using the following priority (Minn. Stat. § 331A.04, subds. 1-5).

  • If there are one or more qualified newspapers with their offices of issue located in the city, the city must choose one of these newspapers.
  • If there is no qualified newspaper with a known office of issue in the city, but one or more qualified newspapers maintain a secondary office in the city, the city must choose one of these newspapers.
  • If there is no qualified newspaper with a known office of issue or a secondary office in the city, then the city must choose a qualified newspaper of general circulation.
  • If the city is without an official newspaper or the publisher refuses to publish a particular public notice, the city must designate a qualified newspaper of general circulation.
  • If the city has territory in two or more counties, the council may designate a separate qualified newspaper for each county.
    If no qualified newspaper exists, publication is not required (Minn. Stat. § 331A.03, subd. 1).

There is an exception to this order of priority. The city may designate any newspaper as its official newspaper if:

  • The newspaper is a qualified newspaper.
  • The newspaper has provided regular coverage of the proceedings of the governing body of the city and will continue to do so.
  • The governing body votes unanimously to designate the newspaper.
  • The publisher of the newspaper furnishes a sworn statement, verified by a recognized independent circulation auditing agency, covering a period of at least one year ending no earlier than 60 days before designation for the newspaper, stating the newspaper’s circulation reaches no fewer than 75% of the households within the city (Minn. Stat. § 331A.04, subd. 6).

A city cannot designate more than one official newspaper (A.G. Op. 314-B-23 (Jan. 30, 1959).

Home rule charter cities

Home rule charter cities should check their charter for additional designation criteria.

Publication requirements

Cities are subject to a variety of general publication requirements.

Published notice

When a statute refers to “published notice” it means publication in a qualified newspaper for the number of weeks specified (Minn. Stat. § 645.11.).

Where items must be published

All public notices generally must be published in a qualified newspaper. When the law requires publication in a newspaper located in a designated area, and no qualified newspaper is located in that area or city, the publication must be made in a qualified newspaper that is likely to give notice. If no qualified newspaper exists, publication is not required (Minn. Stat. § 331A.03, subd. 1).

This does not apply to fourth class cities located in the Twin Cities metropolitan area as long as both of the following conditions are met (Minn. Stat. § 331A.03, subd. 2):

  • There is no qualified non-daily newspaper of general circulation in the city.
  • The notice is printed in a newsletter or similar printed means of giving notice that is prepared by the city and either mailed or delivered to each household in the city.

Cities should take note of whether statute requires publication in any particular newspaper section. In the absence of this direction, notices are typically published in the legal section. Some newspapers reserve the right to edit notices that are published in other sections for length. Publication in the legal section, however, ensures notices will be published exactly as they are submitted.

Publishing information may be done in both the print edition and e-edition of a qualified newspaper. “E-edition” is defined as “a digital facsimile of a newspaper’s print edition that is substantially the same in both format and content as the print edition” (Minn. Stat. § 331A.01, subd. 12).

If a qualified newspaper maintains a website, it must agree to post all the notices on its website at no additional cost for its full publication period. A newspaper’s failure to post or maintain a public notice on its website does not affect its validity (Minn. Stat. § 331A.02, subd. 5).

Form of publication

The following general rules apply to publication of public notices:

A city’s charter or a specific statute may provide additional requirements for particular publications. In these situations, cities should follow the charter provision or statutory requirement (Minn. Stat. § 331A.05, subd. 6).

Summary publication

A city may choose to publish a summary of a complete public notice. “Summary” means an accurate and intelligible abstract or synopsis of the essential elements of proceedings, ordinances, resolutions, and other official actions. A properly published summary fulfills all legal publication requirements (Minn. Stat. § 331A.01, subd. 10).

A summary must be written in a clear and coherent manner and avoid the use of technical or legal terms not generally familiar to the public. The summary publication must clearly indicate that the published material is only a summary and must contain a notice that the full text is available for public inspection at the city office and at any other location the council designates or by means of standard or electronic mail. If the city publishes a summary of its financial statement or minutes, the notice must also contain a statement that a copy of the full version of the financial statement or minutes (other than attachments) is available without cost (Minn. Stat. § 331A.01, subd. 10, Minn. Stat. § 331A.05, Minn. Stat. § 412.191, subd. 4).

Timing of publication

When calculating time, the first day of publication should not be counted. The day of the event, or the day that completes the time required for publication should be included unless it falls on a Sunday or legal holiday. In that case, the next secular day will be considered the last day (Minn. Stat. § 331A.08, subds. 1, 2).

The following graphic helps illustrate this concept: If a city is amending its zoning ordinance, it must publish notice of the required public hearing at least 10 days prior to the hearing (Minn. Stat. § 462.357, subd. 3). If the public hearing is set for a Thursday, notice would have to be published by Monday of the week prior.

Graphic of a sample weekly calendar showing the notice of hearing posted on a Monday and the public hearing the following week on a Thursday, which meets the 10-day requirement for public notice.

Some statutes require that notice be published for a certain number of “successive weeks.” The term “weeks” means calendar weeks. The publication may occur on any day of each successive week, but at least five days must elapse between each publication. At least the number of weeks specified in “successive weeks” must elapse between the first publication and the day of the event for which the publication is made (Minn. Stat. § 645.13).

Any public notice may be printed in a newspaper published on any day of the week, including Sunday or a holiday (Minn. Stat. § 331A.09).

Affidavits of publication

A newspaper cannot recover compensation for publishing a public notice unless the bill is accompanied by an affidavit of the publisher or the publisher’s designee. The affidavit must include the following information:

  • The fact that the newspaper has complied with all the requirements to constitute a qualified newspaper.
  • The dates (month, day of week, year) that the public notice was published.
  • The lowest classified rate paid by commercial users for comparable space (Minn. Stat. § 331A.07).

Cities should make sure they receive an affidavit before paying any bill for publication.

Fees for publication

The maximum rate charged for publication of a public notice must not exceed the lowest classified rate paid by commercial users for comparable space in the newspapers in which the public notice appears. The rate must include all discounts and similar benefits extended to the newspaper’s regular customers (Minn. Stat. § 331A.06, subd. 1.).

No newspaper may increase its rates for publishing public notices by more than 10% per year of the maximum rate charged in the previous year. An annual rate increase is not required (Minn. Stat. § 331A.06, subd. 2).

Common issues

There are some questions that frequently arise for cities regarding newspaper publication.

What must cities publish?

There are many items cities must publish. The most common ones include the following:

Many items that are required to be published must be published by certain dates throughout the year.

See the League’s “Calendar of Important Dates” for more publication requirements and dates

Access the “Post or Publish: Quick Resource Guide” for a quick reference list of what cities are required to post and/or publish


Statutory cities with populations of 1,000 or more must publish their meeting minutes, or a summary of the minutes. The publication must generally occur within 30 days of the meeting. If the city council does not meet more than once every 30 days, it must publish the minutes by 10 days after the city council formally approves them. Alternatively, the city may choose to mail a copy of the minutes upon request (Minn. Stat. § 412.191, subd. 3. Minn. Stat. § 331A.08, subd. 3. Minn. Stat. § 331A.01, subd. 10).

Statutory cities with populations under 1,000 are not required to publish the minutes of their meetings or mail a copy on request, but nothing prevents a city from doing so (Minn. Stat. § 412.191, subd. 3).

Home rule charter cities should check their city charters for publication requirements of minutes.


Statutory cities must publish all ordinances in order for them to take effect. The council may opt to publish the title and summary of the ordinance if:

  • The ordinance is lengthy or includes charts or maps.
  • The council determines that publication of the title and summary would clearly inform the public of the intent and effect of the ordinance.
  • The council approves summary publication by a four-fifths vote.

The summary must clearly indicate that the published material is only a summary and that the full text of the ordinance is available for inspection during regular office hours at the city office and any other location that the council designates, or by means of standard or electronic mail (Minn. Stat. § 412.191, subd. 4).


Resolutions are not generally required to be published, although some home rule charter cities have charter provisions that require publication. Certain types of resolutions, such as the enabling resolutions of some Housing and Redevelopment Authorities and Economic Development Authorities, do have specific publication requirements.

Housing and Redevelopment Authorities

The city creates a Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) by passing an enabling resolution. The city must hold a public hearing before adopting the resolution. Notice of the hearing must be published at least once not less than 10 days or more than 30 days prior to the date of the hearing. After the council passes the resolution, it must be published in the same manner in which ordinances are published (Minn. Stat. § 469.003, subd. 2).

Economic Development Authorities

The city creates an Economic Development Authority (EDA) by passing an enabling resolution. The city must hold a public hearing before adopting the resolution. Notice of the hearing must be published once a week for two consecutive weeks. The first publication must appear not more than 30 days from the date of the public hearing (Minn. Stat. § 469.091. Minn. Stat. § 469.093, subd 1). The notice must contain:

  • The time and place of the hearing.
  • The purpose of the hearing.
  • A summary of the resolution.

Advertisements for bids

All cities must give public notice when they are seeking sealed bids on contracts using the competitive-bidding process. Although the general competitive-bidding law does not specifically require newspaper publication, this is the most common means used for providing public notice (Minn. Stat. § 471.345, subd. 3).

Statutory cities have a more stringent requirement. They must publish an advertisement for bids in a qualified newspaper if the contract is subject to the competitive-bidding law (Minn. Stat. § 412.831. Minn. Stat. § 412.311, subd. 1).

Many home rule charter cities have charter requirements regarding competitive bidding that must be considered.

Cities may disseminate notice for bid advertisements, requests for information, or requests for proposals on their websites or in recognized industry trade journals (including online) in addition to, or as an alternative to, the statutory requirements for newspaper publication when they meet these conditions:

  • The city must simultaneously publish a description of all the bid advertisements, requests for information, and request for proposals that have undergone alternative dissemination and the means by which the dissemination occurred. Publication can be either as part of regular meeting minutes or in a separate notice published in the official newspaper.
  • The alternative dissemination of notice must be in substantially the same format and for the same period of time as is generally required for notices published in the newspaper.
  • For the first six months after a city designates an alternative means of dissemination, it must continue to publish bid advertisements, requests for information, and requests for proposals in the official newspaper in addition to the alternative method. The publication in the official newspaper must indicate where to find the designated alternative method. After the expiration of the six-month period, an alternative means of dissemination satisfies the publication requirements (Minn. Stat. § 331A.03, subd. 3).

A “recognized industry trade journal” is a print or digital publication or website that contains building and construction news of interest to contractors in this state, or that publishes project advertisements and bids for review by contractors or other interested bidders in its regular course of business (Minn. Stat. § 331A.01, subd. 11).

If a city chooses to use its website for advertisement of bids, but only on transportation projects, the requirements are simpler. Any statutory or charter city may advertise on its website for bids on transportation projects in place of or in addition to any other required form of publication by doing the following:

  • When the city designates its official newspaper for the year, it must designate publication of transportation projects will occur on the city’s website.
  • Each year after this designation the city must publish, on the city’s website and in a qualified newspaper in the jurisdiction, that the political subdivision will publish any advertisements for bids on transportation projects on its website.
  • The online publication must be in substantially the same format and for the same period of time as would be in the official newspaper or other print publication.
  • Cities must keep a permanent, public record of the online publication (Minn. Stat. § 331A.12).

Various financial reports

Cities must publish a number of different financial reports each year.

Summary-budget statement

After adopting the city budget, a summary-budget statement must be published in one of the following:

  • The official newspaper of the city.
  • A city newsletter or other mailing the city sends to all households in the city. The city must also send the newsletter or mailing to any nonresident upon request. If the summary-budget statement is published in a city newsletter, it must be the lead story. If the statement is published by a mailing other than a newsletter, the color of the paper on which the summary-budget statement is printed must be distinctively different than the paper containing other printed material included in the mailing (Minn. Stat. § 471.6965).

The statement must contain information about anticipated revenues and expenditures in a form prescribed by the state auditor. The form must be designed so readers can compare the current year and the budget year. The statement must include a note that the complete budget is available for public inspection at a designated location within the city.

Annual financial statement

All cities must publish an annual financial statement. There are slightly different requirements for cities depending upon their populations. There are similar requirements for EDAs and port authorities (Minn. Stat. § 469.100, subd. 5Minn. Stat. § 469.056, subd. 5).

Cities over 2,500

Cities with populations over 2,500 must publish a financial report or a summary, in a form prescribed by the state auditor, in a qualified newspaper of general circulation in the city. If there is no qualified newspaper, the city must post the report in three of the most public places in the city. The publication or posting must occur no later than 30 days after the report is due in the Office of the State Auditor (Minn. Stat. § 471.697, subd. 1).

Cities of 2,500 or less

Cities with populations of 2,500 or less must publish a detailed statement of the financial affairs of the city in a form prescribed by the state auditor. The statement must be published within 90 days after the close of the fiscal year in a qualified newspaper of general circulation in the city(Minn. Stat. § 471.698, subd. 1(c)(1)).

If there is no qualified newspaper of general circulation in the city, the clerk must post copies of the statement in three of the most public places in the city (Minn. Stat. § 471.698, subd. 1(c)(2)).

If the city council publishes its proceedings monthly or quarterly, the annual statement may be summarized in such form as the state auditor may prescribe. The monthly or quarterly publications must show to whom and for what purpose orders are drawn upon the treasurer. But it is not necessary to publish individual disbursements of less than $100 as long as disbursements aggregating $1,000 or more to any person, firm, or other entity are set forth in a schedule of major disbursements (Minn. Stat. § 471.698, subd. 1(c)(2) and subd. 1(d)).

Such a schedule must show:

  • The amounts paid.
  • To whom the amounts are paid.
  • The purpose of the disbursement.
Municipal-liquor-store-balance sheets

Cities that operate municipal liquor stores must publish a balance sheet and a statement of operations of the liquor store in the official newspaper (Minn. Stat. § 471.6985, subd. 1). The state auditor sets the form and style of the statement.

The statement must be published within 90 days after the close of the fiscal year. It must be headlined in a type size no smaller than 18-point and must state the following:

“Analysis of (city) municipal liquor store operations for (year)”

The statement must be written in clear and easily understandable language, and must contain the following information:

  • The total sales.
  • The cost of sales.
  • The gross profit.
  • The profit as a percentage of sales.
  • The operating expenses.
  • The operating income.
  • The contributions to and from other funds.
  • The capital outlay.
  • The interest paid.
  • The debt retired.

If the city council chooses, the statement may be incorporated into the city’s annual financial reports in accordance with a form and style prescribed by the state auditor.

Tax-increment annual statement

EDAs, port authorities, and other such authorities must publish an annual statement about their tax-increment-financing districts (Minn. Stat. § 469.175, subd. 5). The statement must show:

  • The original net tax capacity of the district and any subdistrict under section 469.177, subdivision 1.
  • The net tax capacity for the reporting period of the district and any subdistrict.
  • The captured net tax capacity of the district.
  • The month and year in which the authority has received or anticipates it will receive the first increment from the district.
  • The date the district must be decertified.
  • The amount of principal and interest payments that are due for the current calendar year on any active (non-defeased):
    • General-obligation tax-increment-financing bonds.
    • Other tax-increment-financing bonds.
    • Notes and pay-as-you-go contracts.
  • The amount of increased property tax imposed on other properties in the municipality as a result of any fiscal-disparities contribution, if the amount for the district is computed under Minn. Stat. § 469.177, subd. 3(a).
  • The amounts of tax increment received and expended in the reporting period.
  • A statement that additional information regarding each district may be obtained from the authority, and an explanation of how it may be requested.
  • Any additional information the authority deems necessary.

The statement must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality that approved the tax-increment-financing plan, no later than Aug. 15 each year. The authority must identify the newspaper in which the statement will be published and provide a copy of the statement to the county board, the county auditor, the state auditor, and the governing body of the municipality (if the authority is other than the municipality) on or before Aug. 1.

Meeting and hearing notices

Cities are not generally required to publish notice of meetings. The city must keep a schedule of regular meetings on file at the city office. Meetings held at other times are special meetings and require separate public notice. Certain other types of meetings and hearings have different publication and notice requirements, such as local-improvement hearings and zoning hearings, among others (Minn. Stat. § 13D.04).

See “Meetings of City Councils” for a partial list of required hearings

Notice of special meetings

The Open Meeting Law generally requires cities to post notice of special meetings, as well as mail or deliver notice to each person who has filed a written request for notice of special meetings. Instead of mailing or delivering notice, a city may publish notice at least three days before the meeting (Minn. Stat. § 13D.04, subd. 2).

If the city chooses to publish rather than mail the notice, the notice must be published in the city’s official newspaper. If there is no official newspaper, the city can publish the notice in a qualified newspaper of general circulation within the city (Minn. Stat. § 13D.04, subd. 2(c)).

Home rule charter cities should check their charter for additional publication requirements.

Taxation notification

There are no publication requirements associated with the taxation notification process (formerly truth-in-taxation). Now, cities must include in their meeting minutes the time and place of meetings at which a city’s levy and budget are discussed and when the public may be allowed to speak (Minn. Stat. § 275.065, subd. 1(f)). Like any other meeting minutes, these are either published in the city’s official newspaper or sent out on request (Minn. Stat. § 412.191, subd. 3).

Board of review meeting

A city clerk must give advanced published and posted notice for board of review meetings. The notice must be given at least 10 days before the meeting. The meeting must be held between April 1 and May 31 of each year (Minn. Stat. § 274.01, subd. 1(a)).

Local improvements

A city must publish specific notices if it uses special assessments to pay for a local improvement

For a detailed explanation of the special assessment procedure, including mailing requirements in addition to publication requirements, see the “Special Assessment Toolkit”

Improvement hearings

A city must hold a public hearing (commonly called the improvement hearing) on the proposed improvement before it:

  • Awards a contract for an improvement.
  • Orders the improvement made by day labor.
  • Assesses any portion of the cost of an improvement to be made under a cooperative agreement with the state or another political subdivision (Minn. Stat. § 429.031, subd. 1.).

A city must publish notice of the hearing twice in the city’s official newspaper. The notices must be a week apart, and the hearing must be at least three days after the second publication (Minn. Stat. § 429.031, subd. 1). The notice must include:

  • The date of the hearing.
  • The time of the hearing.
  • The place of the hearing.
  • The general nature of the improvement.
  • The estimated cost of the improvement.
  • The area proposed to be assessed.
Assessment hearings

Before assessing the cost of an improvement to any property, the city must hold a hearing on the proposed assessment (commonly called the assessment hearing). The clerk must publish notice of the hearing no less than two weeks prior to the hearing (Minn. Stat. § 429.061, subd. 1). The notice must include:

  • The date of the hearing.
  • The time of the hearing.
  • The place of the hearing.
  • The general nature of the improvement.
  • The area proposed to be assessed.
  • The total amount of the proposed assessment.
  • The statement that the proposed assessment roll is on file with the clerk.
  • The statement that written or oral objections to the assessment by any property owner will be considered.
  • Statements concerning legal appeals, deferments of assessments, and information regarding the rights of property owners under certain statutes.

Before a city may adopt or amend a zoning ordinance, the city must hold a public hearing. The city must publish notice of the hearing in its official newspaper at least 10 days prior to the hearing. The city must also send mailed notice to property owners who own property within 350 feet of the affected area when the proposed ordinance amendment involves changes in district boundaries affecting an area of five acres or less. The notice must include the time, place, and purpose of the hearing (Minn. Stat. § 462.357, subd. 3).

Livestock moratorium

If a proposed interim ordinance intends to regulate, restrict, or prohibit activities relating to livestock production, the city must hold a public hearing. The city must provide 10 days’ notice of the hearing by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality (Minn. Stat. § 462.355, subd. 4(b)).

Certain election notices

There are a number of different notices cities must publish regarding elections.

Affidavits of candidacy

The city clerk must publish a notice giving the first and last dates that affidavits of candidacy may be filed in the clerk’s office. Council seats to be filled by special election must be listed separately from seats that are coming vacant by the normal course of term expiration. The notice must also state the closing time for filing on the last day for filing. This notice must be published at least two weeks before the first day to file affidavits of candidacy. The clerk must also post a similar notice at least 10 days before the first day to file (Minn. Stat. § 205.13, subd. 2).

In one situation, a city published the wrong date for the closing of filings for an election. This error would not invalidate the election because a candidate is charged with the responsibility for knowing the statutory provisions regarding their election (A.G. Op. 472-H (Dec. 1, 1950)).

Notice of elections

All city clerks must give two weeks published notice of their municipal elections (Minn. Stat. § 205.16, subd. 1). The notice must include:

  • The time of the election.
  • The location of each polling place.
  • The offices to be filled.
  • The propositions or questions to be voted upon at the election.

A fourth class city may give 10 days’ posted notice instead of publishing notice of the municipal general election if the council so chooses. (A fourth class city is one with a population of 10,000 or less (Minn. Stat. § 410.01)).

Sample ballots

The city must publish a notice to voters in the city’s official newspaper for every municipal election. It must publish the sample ballot at least two weeks before the election. Fourth class cities may choose not to publish. In addition to newspaper publication, at least two weeks before the election, the city clerk must make the sample ballot available for inspection in the city clerk’s office. The sample ballot must also be posted in each polling place on election day (Minn. Stat. § 205.16, subds. 2, 3).

Testing of voting system

The official in charge of elections must have the voting system tested to ensure it functions properly before an election. The city must publish notice of the time and place of the test at least two days in advance (Minn. Stat. § 206.83.).

Can the city have a city newsletter and use it as its official newspaper?

Cities sometimes issue reports or other publications, such as city newsletters, to inform the public of official city activities and events. City newsletters generally are not considered qualified newspapers. In order to be such a newspaper, it must meet the same criteria that any other newspaper must have to qualify.

Announcements and copies of city documents available on city websites generally do not replace newspaper publication requirements, with the two limited exceptions described above in “Advertisements for Bids.”

Can a city publish notices in additional newspapers?

The council may increase the frequency of public notice beyond the minimum required by a statute. It may also choose to publish notice in other newspapers in addition to the city’s official newspaper (Minn. Stat. § 331A.05, subd. 5).

What happens when the newspaper changes its name or is discontinued?

If a legal notice is required or ordered to be published in a particular newspaper and the name of the newspaper is changed before the publication is completed, the publication must be made or continued in the newspaper under its new name. The proof of publication must state the change of name and specify the period of publication in the newspaper under each name (Minn. Stat. § 331A.10, subd. 1).

If a newspaper is discontinued before the publication of public notice, and a court ordered the publication be made in a particular newspaper, the order for publication may be amended by a court to designate another newspaper (Minn. Stat. § 331A.10, subd. 2).

If the publication was not required by a court order, the publication may be made or completed in any other qualified newspaper. Any time during which the notice is published in the first newspaper is included as part of the time that was required for publication (Minn. Stat. § 331A.10, subd. 2).

What if one of the council members owns or works for the official newspaper?

When the only newspaper that qualifies as the city’s official newspaper is one in which a council member has a personal financial interest, the council may still select it as the official newspaper. The interested officer should disclose their interest and abstain from voting or participating in the discussion. The remaining council members must approve the contract by unanimous vote (Minn. Stat. § 471.88, subd. 3).

To learn more about elected officials and conflicts see “Official Conflict of Interest

What if there is a mistake in a publication?

If an error in publication occurs through no fault of the city, the mistake will not affect the validity of the event, action, or proceeding. In cases where the error is the fault of the newspaper, the political subdivision shall not be charged for the publication (Minn. Stat. § 331A.05, subd. 7).

A statutory city’s failure to publish an ordinance would not by itself invalidate the ordinance. However, the ordinance would not take effect or be enforceable until after it has been published (A.G. Op. 277b-4 (Feb. 11, 1986)).

In one situation, a city erroneously specified the term for which the mayor was to be elected as one year. The attorney general found this error would not invalidate the election because the statutory provision setting the term of office at two years is controlling over the election notice (A.G. Op. 277a-4 (Feb. 3, 1956)).

Can publication requirements be met using the city’s website?

With two narrow exceptions, discussed above under the heading “Advertising for Bids,” cities cannot meet legal publication requirements by only posting notice on a website.

Working with the news media

Cities can take several steps to have effective relationships with the news media:

  • Be available to answer reporters’ questions.
  • Return calls from the media promptly.
  • Know and respect reporters’ deadlines.
  • Don’t play favorites with a particular reporter or newspaper.
  • Designate one or more spokespersons, and ensure that all spokespersons provide consistent answers.
  • Use press releases and press conferences effectively — don’t overuse them.
  • Anticipate the questions the media will ask so you can have answers ready.
  • Be truthful. If you don’t know the answer, say so. If you need to find information and call the reporter back, that is okay.
  • Keep the message simple.
  • Don’t say, “No comment.”
  • Don’t assume that any comment is “off the record.”

Remember, the public has a right to know what its government is doing. Most reporters are trying to write an article that is accurate and interesting, as well as informative.

Public officials who develop and maintain good relationships with the media will be able to help reporters understand the city’s point of view on an issue so the reporter can present it accurately to the public.

For information or tips on working with the media, contact LMC Public Affairs Coordinator Don Reeder.