For most newspaper readers, the legal disclaimer isn’t exactly the first page they turn to.

A savvy reader, however, might recognize just how valuable they are.

For all those giant globs of text that are lacking in prose and style, they more than make up for it with information. You want to know every detail of every public hearing that’s held in your city, you might get most of what you know from a diligent community reporter, but you’ll only get the finer details of the notices that municipalities are required to publish.

A particularly savvy journalist could also use legal notices to better shape their reporting by helping them find information that might have slipped through the cracks.

Legal pages might not win you a Pulitzer, but they can help better inform your readers, and for this reason, they are an important part of every community newspaper that publishes them.

Less interesting for most editors and publishers is a clumsy and above all misleading title that accompanies the designation of publisher of legal announcements: the designation as the “official journal” of a municipality. It almost suggests that a newsroom is working for the city, when in reality the arrangement is for the common purpose of informing the public. The revenue generated from the publication of legal opinions is rather small, with the National Newspaper Association estimating that it accounts for between 5 and 10% of all newspaper revenue, but also comes with the cost of extra pages to print.

We are today highlighting the importance of legal opinions in newspapers because the status of our newspaper as the official newspaper of Suffolk County is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee of the Legislative Assembly today.

That’s because in January, with little fanfare and unbeknownst to our staff, the Legislature removed us from our longstanding responsibility to publish county legal opinions regarding Southold Town. We’ve been replaced, we’ve come to learn, by Dan’s Papers, the Southampton-based lifestyle publishers best known for printing photos of Hamptons events, entertainment news and, sometimes in the past, viral satires.

Founded in 1960, the paper has never been known for its dedication to covering local government news of any kind – let alone in Southold Town, where our paper has been based, locally owned and continuously published since 1857 .

One person who recognizes this fact is Al Krupski, a farmer from Cutchogue and the North Fork representative in the Suffolk County Legislative Assembly. He has since moved a resolution to reinstate the Suffolk Times as the county’s official newspaper – a designation our towns of Riverhead and Shelter Island papers still hold. He has since enlisted local community groups to help him in this effort to get these important and informative local legal notices published in the newspaper and website where engaged community residents are most likely to find them. – the only place where the news could actually be covered.

A simple search of Dan’s archives shows that the newspaper has not mentioned Mr Krupski once since he became the official newspaper for the very region he represents – that’s four times less than he only referenced Geraldo Rivera, for example.

Occasionally, local politicians will seek to revoke a newspaper’s “official designation” as punishment for unflattering coverage. For a lawmaker to actively push for a newspaper to be restored as a Designated Person, without that newspaper’s editorial team having any prior knowledge of the matter, they should tell you everything you need to know on this subject.