New Jersey Media: #5Questions with Kevin Coughlin of Morristown Green
Every Monday, the Center for Cooperative Media introduces you to one of its partners in the New Jersey news ecosystem. The Center facilitates a network of New Jersey local news publishers, called the NJ News Commons, who collaborate together on projects, share content and ideas, and support one another.
Name: Kevin Coughlin
Title: Editor/publisher of MorristownGreen.com
Age: Old enough to know better
Current residence: Morristown, N.J.
Originally from: Connecticut
Contact info: MorristownGreen@gmail.com, 973-944-0530
Tell us about yourself:
Awhile back I joined a cult. I hear whispers that friends and family are planning an intervention. It won’t work. The ukulele is a powerful master! There are parallels between playing in a uke band and running MorristownGreen.com. Both avocations involve small families of passionate people. We hit wrong notes occasionally, but we always give it our best shot. Once a week, I also whack fellow geezers with a stick, on a roller hockey rink. Highly recommended as a stress-reliever. (Remember, ’tis better to give than receive.) As a kid, I worshiped baseball and the Beatles. Now that Derek Jeter is gone, my undivided sports focus is hockey, projected in high definition to frightening dimensions in an apartment the size of a locker stall. I like documentaries – finally got around to seeing “Restrepo” (powerful) – and biographies. I’m reading a good one on Teddy Roosevelt and his bully pulpit.
Tell us about your publication:
I am a recovering newspaperman. I had a long, fun run at The Star-Ledger, where I helped the paper launch Morristown Green in late 2007. When the mother ship started losing altitude, I grabbed a golden (make that bronze) parachute, and took MG with me when I jumped. I could not bear the thought of shutting down a site that had consumed my every waking hour for two years. Morristown Green strives to inform, entertain, and encourage conversation about anything and everything that matters to readers in Greater Morristown.
What makes you get up and go to work every day?
An alarm clock. Which I need, after so many late nights of posting, posting, posting. Seriously, it’s the people – my neighbors and acquaintances and volunteers – who make this worthwhile. They care a lot about our community, and so do I. MG makes an impact. Our stories have helped neighbors in times of need. During bad storms, they turn to MG for information. When a construction project breaks ground, or a building burns down, or someone is launching a charity drive, we are the go-to source for details. Newspapers rarely set foot here anymore; I try to fill the void. This is a wonderfully diverse community, and it’s a privilege to travel in its many circles.
What are you most passionate about when it comes to journalism?
The “negative” stories – crimes, accidents, zoning battles – get the most traffic, and are important. But I derive more pleasure from the positive ones – “ordinary” people doing extraordinary things, stories that celebrate mutual interests and diversity, not squabbles and division. It’s inspiring to spend time with artists and musicians and other creative folks. I enjoy mentoring writers, photographers and videographers of all ages, and I learn as much from them as they learn from me.
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned on the job?
MG hosted lots of outdoor events – until a hurricane took aim at my film festival. Now, we take everything inside. It’s almost as relaxing as whacking geezers with hockey sticks.
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