Photo by Thomas E. Franklin.

Best of 2016: Five things we’re proud to have been a part of this year

As 2016 comes to a close, we’re looking back on what the Center for Cooperative Media and our partners have accomplished over the last year. Although there are many things we’re proud to have been a part of, we’ve chosen to highlight five of our favorite projects, events, and initiatives.

Here they are, in no particular order:

MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY 10-07-2016 SUSTAIN LOCAL EVENT: Sustain Local 2016, the third national conference about issues facing local journalism hosted by the Center for Cooperative Media. The conference will kick off with a welcome reception, keynote presentation, and networking event on Thursday, Oct. 6. A full day of Sustain Local 2016 panels and presentations will take place on Friday, Oct. 7, and will be held at the University Hall Conference Center at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J. Sustain Local 2016 will tackle major business and organizational challenges facing local news publishers across the country. News entrepreneurs and newspaper, television and radio journalists will join with other business, advertising, and academic leaders for panels, workshops and small group discussions about generating the kind of revenue needed to support the work of local journalism. We will put a special emphasis on creative business models, revenue strategies, emerging technology and innovation. -photo by Thomas E. Franklin Phone: 201-669-2075c

Photo by Thomas E. Franklin

Sustain Local 2016: A national conference about local journalism sustainability

This year’s national conference focused on sustainability — mainly revenue issues faced by local news and information providers. Sustain Local 2016 was hosted on Oct. 6-7 at Montclair State University and featured a dozen panels and workshops for more than 160 attendees, including media executives, journalists, funders and students. The conference, our third annual event, was sponsored by the Democracy Fund, the American Press Institute, Broadstreet, iCopyright, Bizyhood and the New Jersey Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists.

We kicked off the conference with a cocktail networking reception on Thursday evening and an American Press Institute presentation on data-driven content strategy, followed by a keynote by Gordon Borrell on building the media company of the future.

Friday’s topics include the current state of business models supporting local journalism, diversifying your revenue by thinking creatively about what you can sell, nonprofit business models, a peek into the future of business models supporting local journalism, building an events-based business and the importance of civic engagement. Michael Oreskes of NPR gave the lunch keynote speech.

Click here to read a full list of stories from the conference, as well as check out our videos and photo galleries.


Eleanor Cippel leads the Sales Academy class of 2016. (Photo Credit: Joe Amditis)

Photo by Joe Amditis.

Sales Academy, Round Two

In August, we hosted the second round of our Sales Academy with Eleanor Cippel and Joe Michaud. The Sales Academy is an intensive, six-week program supported by the Dodge Foundation and aimed at training local publishers in the art of digital ad sales. Participants began with a two-day sales bootcamp on Aug. 17-18, followed by six weeks of individual and group coaching, real-world field assignments, and sales prep homework. The class of 2016 consisted of 14 local publishers and salespeople from news outlets across New Jersey. Support was provided by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

Eleanor and Joe returned to lead the class for the second year in a row, providing attendees with the insight and professional experience accumulated during their careers in digital media, business, sales, and entrepreneurship. The bulk of the training focused on understanding the fundamentals of customer relationships and selling, using Eleanor’s “Intentional Sales” philosophy of understanding the advertisers’ customer, and responding to those needs. “I loved the personal attention and access,” one participant said. “I liked that it was a conversation we could all participate in. I found it very valuable.”

We hope to keep things going in 2017 with round three of the Sales Academy. Be sure you’re subscribed to our daily newsletter to hear about it first!



In the Shadow of Liberty: Immigration in New Jersey

They come from everywhere: the almost 22 percent of New Jersey residents who are foreign-born. In January, NJ Spotlight and the Center for Cooperative Media launched a campaign on the now-defunct crowdfunding platform, Beaconreader, that raised more than $31,000 to support independent reporting on issues related to immigration in New Jersey. One of the goals of this project, which we dubbed “In the Shadow of Liberty: Immigration in New Jersey,” is to cut through the political rhetoric and tell stories of what life is like for the nearly 2 million immigrants who live in our most diverse and densely-populated state.

This project is an ongoing collaborative reporting effort coordinated by NJ Spotlight and the Center. In the Shadow of Liberty seeks to bring together ethnic, community, and statewide media outlets for a year-long reporting focus on immigrants, immigrant communities, and immigration issues in New Jersey.

NJ Spotlight used its share of the money raised to support a year-long reporting focus on immigrants, immigrant communities, and immigration issues in New Jersey. The Center used its share of the funding to issue small reporting grants to local publishers and journalists, to support reporting on various immigration issues and immigrant communities.


Photo by Joe Amditis.

Photo by Joe Amditis.

Launch of the NJ Mobile News Lab

In November, we started accepting grant applications for the NJ Mobile News Lab. With support from the Dodge and Knight foundations, the Center earmarked $20,000 to address the issue of mobile readiness in local, digital newsrooms by funding a series of mobile news experiments for local publishers in New Jersey. The result is a project called the NJ Mobile News Lab.

By the time the application period closed on Nov. 30, we had received 15 proposals for mobile experiments in New Jersey, many of which focused on issues of revenue and sustainability, as well as audience engagement. Much of this project is informed by the need to move beyond some of the more traditional ways of thinking about mobile news. 

We are currently in the process of reviewing the applications we received, and are looking forward to kicking off the second phase of the project in late January 2017. If you want to stay up to date on the NJ Mobile New Lab, sign up for our monthly mobile newsletter by clicking here.



Photo by Mike Peters.

Local/National Partnerships Program

Midyear we were thrilled to announce the launch of a new program to study news partnerships between national and local organizations, thanks to a grant from the Democracy Fund and the Dodge Foundation. The local/national news partnerships project is a year-long program being run by Tim Griggs, former publisher of the Texas Tribune and a longtime New York Times staffer. We expect you’ll hear a lot about the project in 2017, as Tim has spent the fall interviewing potential partners and documenting existing methods of partnership. Early next year he’ll run some experiments between national news organizations and local New Jersey partners and will report on the outcomes on our website. 


Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2017!

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


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