In a decision Monday afternoon, the Salina City Commission voted to make the city's website the official city newspaper and additional legal notices will now be placed in the Salina311 newspaper. This move eliminates public notices from the Salina Journal, where they have been published historically.
The move, made under Kansas statutes, allows the commission to designate the city website as the official newspaper but for certain things, the state requires publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
The decision was influenced by various factors, including subscription numbers and cost considerations. Salina311 currently has 3,190 paid subscribers and 23,378 subscribers while the Salina Journal had 3,900 paid Sunday subscriptions (as of August 2023). Notably, there is a significant cost difference, with Salina311 charging less than half the price of the Salina Journal per column inch.
Saline County chose Salina311 for their notices back in July and expressed overall satisfaction during the roughly six months of operation.
Mayor Mike Hoppock, in favor of Salina311, highlighted the benefit of public accessibility without a paid subscription. Hoppock stated, "The thing that kind of sways me to Salina311, I do believe the Salina Journal with the six days and the way they publish is a little more traditional but if the public can get to it on the public side without purchasing a subscription I think is a benefit.” He went on to say, “It opens it to the entire community so I would probably lean towards Salina311.” Commissioner Karl Ryan, on the other hand, preferred the Salina Journal. “When it comes to the choice of the two I prefer the traditional paper, the Salina Journal still publishes six days a week,” Ryan stated.
Commissioner Bill Longbine responded to Ryan by stating, "My thought on that is there is very little in the Salina Journal that is local where Salina311 is 100% local and locally printed." Commissioner Greg Lenkiewicz supported Salina311, emphasizing its local ownership and alignment with the preference for free access to information. Lenkiewicz stated, “I think it’s worth mentioning that this portion that we are publishing would be available free to the public on Salina311.” Lenkiewicz went on to say, “We have already embraced the online portion of disseminating information to the public and I think the business model of Salina311 is more in line with that thought process."
Commissioner Dr. Trent Davis, leaning towards Salina311 by a narrow margin, stated, “I think it's nice it is locally owned but I am more concerned about what kind of service it provides to me. Whereas I am traditionally a traditionalist finding something local in the Salina Journal now is very hard to do.”
The final vote resulted in a 4 to 1 decision in favor of making Salina311 the paper of record, with Mayor Hoppock, Commissioners Davis, Longbine, and Lenkiewicz voting in favor, and Commissioner Ryan casting the sole dissenting vote.