Blog Posts

New poll: New Jersey residents still turn to newspapers first for local, state news

Friday Apr 21, 2017  |  0 comments

Fairleigh Dickinson University released the results this week from its latest PublicMind poll, and they paint an interesting picture of New Jersey’s news and media consumption habits.

You can read the full press release and see the entire dataset by clicking here. We’ve also created the nifty interactive infographic below using Infogr.am to give you a better sense of how New Jerseyans get their news. You can also read more about the poll in this story by the Burlington County Times: “Newspapers are the most relied on source for NJ news.”

The bottom line? Despite dramatic changes in newspaper business models and layoffs across the state, New Jerseyans still turn to newspapers first for their local and state news.

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A $330M windfall could rebuild New Jersey media; here’s how you can help

Friday Apr 14, 2017  |  0 comments

Editor’s note: This post was republished with permission from Free Press. Montclair State University is a proposed member of the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium.

New Jersey’s local media is in crisis and — if we act fast — the state legislature can actually do something to fix it.

This week, the Federal Communications Commission announced the results of the national spectrum auction, which incentivized television stations to sell their airwaves.

And New Jersey is set to receive a huge windfall from the auction. The state sold off two of its old public-media stations — WNJN in Montclair and WNJT in Trenton — and brought in nearly $332 million. These were two of the largest individual payouts of any noncommercial stations.

Now it’s up the lawmakers to decide what to do with the money. Since these were the public’s airwaves, designed specifically to inform the residents of New Jersey, we believe these funds should go directly to rebuilding community media.

Advocating for New Jersey media

In my testimony before the New Jersey Senate Budget Committee this week, I urged lawmakers to support the creation of the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium. The consortium, a joint initiative between Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University, would invest the auction revenue in projects that strengthen public-interest journalism, advance research and innovation in the media field, develop and deploy civic technology, and promote civic engagement.

The opportunity to strengthen local journalism in New Jersey could not come at a more critical time. For the past two years, Free Press’ News Voices project has worked to connect newsrooms with the residents they’re meant to serve. In places like Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Camden, Morristown, New Brunswick, and Newark, we’ve heard from countless people that they want more coverage of their communities.

They’ve told us how the thousands of journalist layoffs over the last decade have led to reduced coverage. In some cases media consolidation and newsroom closings have left their communities completely uncovered.

When news coverage disappears, people are less informed, civic participation drops and political corruption increases. Spectrum revenues should be used to support those who rely on locally produced news and information to engage with their neighbors, learn about volunteer opportunities, make decisions about voting, run for public office, get information about small businesses and support their children in local schools.

Time to take action

That’s why the creation of the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium is so important.

These publicly owned airwaves came with the obligation to serve the people in the selling stations’ local broadcast areas. It’s only right that money from the sale of New Jersey’s 20th-century media outlets be used to create a new, forward-thinking media landscape for this century that’s attuned to residents’ needs.

We’ve started holding forums around the state, speaking with people about this idea, listening to residents about what they need in local coverage, and working with them to imagine how this fund could support their communities.

Creating the consortium isn’t going to be easy. Lawmakers are already scrambling to use the auction revenue for everything except supporting an industry that holds them accountable and serves the public’s interest.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get the media residents deserve. This opportunity will disappear if we don’t act fast.

New Jersey deserves better media — urge the legislature to fund the Civic Information Consortium today.

Mike Rispoli is the journalism campaign director and News Voices: New Jersey director at Free Press. Free Press is a partner of the Center for Cooperative Media. Learn more about News Voices: New Jersey.

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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Why does The Marshall Project’s ‘The Next to Die’ collaborative data initiative work so well? Because it’s easy.

Tuesday Mar 21, 2017  |  0 comments

For the last several months I’ve studied national and local news partnerships on behalf of the Center for Cooperative Media, as part of a project funded by Democracy Fund and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Previous posts covered ways local and national newsrooms can partner right now, hurdles and opportunities for locals, and how national newsrooms can be better collaborators.

Next, we’ll look at how one smart partnership works.

Tom Meagher, the deputy managing editor of The Marshall Project, has engaged in collaborative projects with a who’s-who of national news brands: The New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, the Guardian.

As for local partnerships? A lot of squeeze, not a lot of juice.

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How history was made: Two Panama Papers editors to keynote Collaborative Journalism Summit

Monday Mar 20, 2017  |  0 comments

Now as its own newly-formed entity, two editors from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists will speak about the importance, impact and power of cooperative media

In April 2016, after months of incredibly well-guarded and deep reporting, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the Panama Papers project.

It instantly became the single biggest and best example of collaborative journalism in history. Ever.

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Op-Ed: Sale of NJ’s airwaves could address local news crisis

Thursday Mar 16, 2017  |  0 comments

In an op-ed printed in NJ Spotlight this week, Mike Rispoli of Free Press lays out the case for creating the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, a group that would be formed with a mission to “advance research and innovation in the fields of media and technology and strengthen local news and information.”

The group of four New Jersey universities in the consortium — which includes Montclair State University — would be funded with proceeds of the recently-concluded FCC spectrum auction, in which old public TV licenses were sold for millions of dollars. A windfall is coming to NJ from that sale, and we believe at least a large chunk of the money should be reinvested this way.

What would the consortium do? Rispoli laid out a few options in his piece, including issuing grants to universities, media outlets, technology companies, and community partners for projects that benefit the state’s civic life and meet the evolving information needs of New Jersey’s underserved communities.

“There’s an urgent need to invest in local news and information in New Jersey,” Rispoli wrote. “When news coverage disappears, people are less informed, civic participation drops, and political corruption increases. A bleak future for the journalism industry means a bleak future for the towns and cities where we live.”

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine media in our state. This is a chance to change the course of history, and do something that no other state has done before.

The Center for Cooperative Media is fully onboard with this proposal, and we are doing everything we can to help the Free Press Action Fund move forward in its work convincing New Jersey lawmakers to support the consortium.

And the time is now for YOU to take action if you support the proposal; click here to get more info about what you can do through the Free Press Action Fund. You can also email Mike Rispoli for more info: mrispoli@freepress.net.

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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What are chatbots and how do they work?

Friday Mar 10, 2017  |  0 comments

Chatbots are computer programs that primarily function as question-and-answer services, allowing users to ask questions and receive answers that are drawn from a series of pre-programmed responses.

Users already engage with chatbots on a surprisingly large scale. Consider the last time you called a bank: a computer program answered and asked you to tell it what you wanted by using the numbers on your phone’s touch tone dial pad or by simply speaking your request into the microphone.

Often, the interactions between users and chatbots occurs in the form of text-based communications; examples include text messaging and Facebook messenger. But many online customer service platforms have been using chatbots for some time to help stem the amount of incoming phone calls, frequently asked questions, and other common customer service concerns.

The user typically types a question and, based on certain keywords and phrases in that question, the chatbot searches its database to find and deliver the appropriate response. In many ways, chatbots are like search engines that deliver one result instead of many (although they can do that, too, if necessary).

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National newsrooms say size, bureaucracy and ‘do-it-ourselves’ mentality are biggest obstacles to collaboration

Thursday Mar 09, 2017  |  0 comments

We’re complicated, we have trust issues and we can just do it ourselves, anyway.

Those may sound like complaints from a relationship-gone-wrong. They’re also reasons national news organizations cite for why they don’t pursue collaborations with local journalism outlets more frequently.

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

Wednesday Mar 08, 2017  |  0 comments

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:

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Satullo: In South Jersey, grassroots journalist finds his niche

Monday Feb 27, 2017  |  0 comments

Chris Satullo, former head of news at WHYY and cofounder of Keystone Civic Ventures, wrote an op-ed today for the Philadelphia Inquirer that shines the light on a New Jersey local journalism gem: Justin Auciello and his wildly-popular crowdsourced journalism startup, Jersey Shore Hurricane News.

Satullo sat down with Auciello, 36, to find out how this Jersey Shore native and self-described workaholic went from urban planner to new-media sensation – almost overnight.

Click here to read the full article, via Philly.com.

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Active hyperlinking improves chance of sustainability for newspapers, new research shows

Thursday Feb 16, 2017  |  0 comments

It may be hard to believe that there are still news organizations out there that don’t hyperlink actively and externally. (How many years have we been explaining this now?) But, there are.

Perhaps this will help: New research published this week by a Rutgers professor shows that newspapers that actively hyperlink to themselves and other websites are more likely to survive than those that don’t.

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TAPinto launches a mobile app for its 60+ franchisees

Wednesday Feb 15, 2017  |  0 comments

Mike Shapiro has been making waves in New Jersey’s community of local publishers since TAPinto.net first arrived on the scene back in 2008 under the name “The Alternative Press.” TAPinto’s model allows Shapiro to oversee a vast network of independent franchisees that has continued to spread throughout the Garden State and into New York.

His franchisees are essentially free to run their sites however they please — as long as they abide by the SPJ’s code of ethics and a handful of other standard-issue publishing obligations. Meanwhile, they’re able to take advantage of TAPinto’s collective back office services, internal ad network, and range of other benefits that come with the territory.

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