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Ask the County Law Librarian: Newspapers of Record in Sacramento


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Q. Hello,

I’m trying to get a list of newspapers of record in Sacramento County for legal noticing. The court clerk told me that the county clerk certifies newspapers, but the county clerk just told me it was the court clerk.  How do I get a list? Thanks in advance, Pranav

A. Hi Pranav,

No definitive list of “newspapers of record” in Sacramento appears to exist. (Technically, in California they are called “newspapers of general circulation.”) In some counties, such as Santa Barbara and San Francisco, lists are available online, but Sacramento is not one of them. I can point you to a couple of helpful lists, however.

The Law Library has a list of Sacramento newspapers of general circulation on our website. Our list includes contact information and pricing for a variety of papers.

Our list is based on a list included in the Sacramento court’s instructions on changing your name. (Proposed name changes must be published prior to approval). The court lists newspapers of general circulation in another set of instructions as well, on service by publication in family court.  Oddly enough, the lists don’t match; the family law list only includes three papers, the Sacramento Bee, the Daily Journal, and the Daily Recorder (now owned by the Daily Journal’s parent company).

The Sacramento Finance Department’s Tax and Licensing Division also publishes a list of newspapers of general circulation.  (Fictitious business name statements must be published prior to approval.) This list, too, is slightly different from the one in the court’s name change packet – it adds the Sacramento Business Journal. However, the list on our site includes the majority of papers mentioned in any of these locations.

“Newspapers of General Circulation” are defined as newspapers which are “published for the dissemination of local or telegraphic news and intelligence of a general character.” Cal. Gov’t Code 6000.  (The reference to “telegraphic news” makes it obvious that it’s been a while since this law was passed!) The newspaper must have a bona fide list of paying subscribers and must have been publishing regularly in the area for more than a year.

Since 1952, a newspaper which wants “general circulation” status has
been required to get a judicial decree establishing it as such. Cal. Gov’t Code 6027.  So you would think that the court would be the best place to find this information. Unfortunately, there is no good way to search the Sacramento County Superior Court records for such decrees.

Some newspapers list their status as “general circulation” papers on their website or the masthead of their print copies. You can probably confirm the status of any particular newspaper by contacting their classified ads section, too.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Do you have a question for the County Law Librarian? Just email [email protected]. If your question is selected your answer will appear in next Thursday’s column. Even if your question isn’t selected, though, I will still respond within two weeks.

Coral Henning, Director
@coralh & @saclawlibrarian

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