NJ Pen, SNJ Today and The Village Green win $5K NJ Mobile News Lab grants

The judges have spoken, the votes are in, and the winners of the NJ Mobile News Lab grants have been selected. We are pleased to announce the three $5,000 mobile lab grantees:

  • Matt Skoufalos of NJ Pen will launch an SMS-based reader engagement tool that will allow subscribers to receive news and updates in real time. He hopes this will allow NJ Pen to bypass social media entirely by using Twilio to deliver stories directly into the hands of the people who want to read them, but who may not visit the NJ Pen website on a regular basis or subscribe to the NJ Pen email newsletter.
  • Megan Wolf of SNJ Today is creating a mobile app that will allow their viewers to become “Certified Field Reporters” by capturing and submitting video and other mobile content to SNJ Today. The app will also allow smaller publishers to capture and submit video for professional editing and finishing by SNJ Today staff, and will include a tutorial on how to shoot mobile video that is suitable for air.
  • Mary Barr Mann and Carolyn Maynard-Parisi of The Village Green plan to optimize their website’s mobile capabilities, functionality, and overall user experience. They will be looking at various site metrics to determine the impact of their mobile upgrades in an attempt to better understand their users’ experiences when visiting the Village Green website.

Each grantee will receive a $5,000 mobile lab grant to help support the mobile news experiments listed above. The experiments will last for a minimum of one year, the results of which will be published here on the NJ Mobile News Lab blog and in our monthly mobile lab newsletter. Grantees will submit monthly progress reports in the form of Medium posts, which will also be published on our site and in our newsletter.

Each of the grantees will work with our research director, Sarah Stonbely, to ensure that the data generated as a result of their experiments is tracked and organized. They will also work with Matthew Weber, our research partner at Rutgers University, to ensure that we’re using the correct metrics to measure the success and impacts of each experiment. The data from each experiment will then be given to Weber and his colleagues and will form the basis for a forthcoming research project on the use and impact of mobile technology in local newsrooms.

We are also partnering with Christopher Guess, creator of the open-source Push App for local publishers. Our partnership with Guess will allow up to five New Jersey newsrooms to create a custom mobile app for their publication. The partnership also includes up to a year of free app support and maintenance.

If you are interested in learning more about our ongoing mobile lab experiments or the NJ Mobile News Lab more generally, you can follow this publication on Medium and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


Joe Amditis is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media. Contact him at amditisj@mail.montclair.edu.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. The Center is supported with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Democracy Fund. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

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