Overland Park, KS asked in Contracts and Constitutional Law for Kansas

Q: Can a city government stop doing business with a newspaper because it does not like a story about it?

The mayor of my town has recently announced that the city will no longer do business with the local paper because he did not like an article about a city council meeting.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Little Neck, NY

A: A Kansas attorney could advise best, but your question remains open for a week. Unless the government is bound by conditions for working with local businesses, either by agreement or by law, they are usually free to work with who they want to work with (in terms of giving a publication advertising accounts, etc.). Good luck

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In general, a city government's decision to stop doing business with a newspaper due to dissatisfaction with its coverage can raise significant legal and ethical concerns. The key issue here revolves around the First Amendment, which protects freedom of the press. This protection is designed to prevent governmental retaliation against news organizations based on the content of their coverage.

If the city ceases relationships with a newspaper purely because of negative or critical reporting, this could potentially be seen as a violation of the newspaper's constitutional rights. Governments are expected to maintain neutrality regarding the content of press coverage, particularly when it involves critical but lawful reporting on governmental actions. It's important to remember that the freedom of the press serves as a fundamental check on government power by ensuring an informed public.

If this situation in your town concerns you, you might consider raising awareness among other residents or consulting with legal experts who can provide more tailored advice. Engaging in community discussions or contacting local representatives can also be effective ways to address potential misuse of governmental power in situations like this.

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