News Voices: New Jersey

When it comes to news coverage, New Jersey is one of the most underserved states. Sandwiched between the New York and Philadelphia media markets, New Jersey receives little to no coverage of its state and local governments.

Newsrooms are shrinking, TV stations are closing down and public-media funding has been slashed. While local news startups are providing fresh voices, they struggle to break even financially and tackle statewide issues.

New Jersey is a place of both great challenges and great opportunities. Journalists, academics, philanthropists and community leaders are joining together to make the state a model for the future of news.

We launched News Voices: New Jersey in 2015 to bring together communities and newsrooms to tackle problems in cities and neighborhoods throughout the Garden State. We’re now active in six communities — Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Camden, Morristown, Newark and New Brunswick.

Hundreds of people, including journalists, community members, activists, students, faith leaders, union workers and artists, have come together at our events to discuss pressing local issues and ways that they can collaborate to tell stories with impact.

Our work is ongoing. We’re taking what we’ve learned in each community and teaming up with local residents and newsrooms to find ways to tell stories that matter. Some of these partnerships include organizing local forums, training student journalists to work with the community or launching collaborative storytelling projects around local concerns.

We’re continuing to bring people together across the state. Want to get involved? Get info on our next event, or email News Voices: New Jersey Director Mike Rispoli to find out how to participate.

Funding the future of news in New Jersey

Imagine if we had millions of dollars to strengthen local media and meet the evolving information needs of New Jersey’s underserved communities. This investment would mean more responsive local journalism and essential community information.

And right now we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make this happen.

New Jersey participated in a recently concluded federal spectrum auction in which the sale of New Jersey public-television stations WNJN and WNJT brought in more than $330 million in revenues to the state.

New Jersey — perhaps more than any other state — needs these kinds of resources to serve community needs. At Free Press Action Fund, we’re campaigning to ensure that a significant portion of the auction proceeds is invested in a newly created New Jersey Civic Information Consortium.

On June 1, the majority leaders of the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate introduced legislation to establish the consortium. Assembly Bill A4933 and Senate Bill S3303, introduced by State Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D–Camden) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D–Bergen), would allocate $100 million in proceeds from the spectrum auction. The funding for the Civic Information Consortium would be allocated in $20-million annual disbursements over a five-year period.

By leveraging the resources, knowledge and expertise of our partners at Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University, the consortium could help bolster public-interest journalism, civic information and media innovation for decades to come.

Creating the Civic Information Consortium will require action from the state legislature and the governor. That won’t happen without public involvement and pressure. We have a real shot at securing these funds, but only if we act now.

We’re traveling across the state to gather input on what kinds of projects the consortium could support. Join us in transforming local journalism and local communities: Tell state lawmakers to fix the local news crisis.

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News from Around the Web

  • Push to Find Funding for Local Journalism While Trenton Is 'Out of Town'

    NJ Spotlight
    July 17, 2017

    Grassroots effort to tap into cash from the sale of public airwaves will continue through the summer and into 2018 if need be, Free Press Action Fund organizers say.

  • Bill Aims to Fund Better Local News Coverage

    Asbury Park Sun
    June 13, 2017

    At a recent event held in Asbury Park, local residents and members of the local media came together with Free Press Action Fund to brainstorm how proceeds from the $332-million sale of old public-media licenses should be used to better inform communities.

  • Local Journalism in New Jersey Could Be in for $100-Million Windfall

    NJ Spotlight
    June 5, 2017

    New Jersey is getting ready to receive a one-time infusion of $332 million in revenue thanks to a nationwide auction of broadcast airwaves that was held earlier this year. With a new state fiscal year about to begin in a matter of weeks, two Democratic legislative leaders are now pushing to earmark at least some of that money to bolster local journalism in New Jersey.


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