New Jersey Media: #5Questions with Mark Hrywna of Rahway Rising

Each week, 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. 

Mark Hrywna

Name: Mark Hrywna
Title: Founder/publisher of Rahway Rising
Age: 42
Current residence: Hoboken, N.J.
Originally from: Maplewood, N.J.
Contact info: rahwayrising@gmail.com

 

 

Tell us about yourself: 
In my full-time job, I’m senior editor at The NonProfit Times, a national trade publication. Prior to that I was an editor for a weekly newspaper group, where I caught the bug for local municipal meetings and community journalism. RahwayRising.com was something I started as a hobby when I lived in downtown Rahway, to learn and experiment with blogging (in its infancy at the time) but also to fill a news void locally, about redevelopment and planning in particular.

Tell us about your publication:
RahwayRising.com is a blog that primarily covers redevelopment in downtown Rahway, small business in the way of downtown retail/commercial & turnover, as well as trends related to transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly initiatives.

What makes you get up and go to work every day?
It’s probably something different every day, which is sort of how I’ve always described being a journalist — it can be different every day.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to journalism?
Transparency, information and community engagement: Trying to engage the community with relevant information that provides transparency about their what their elected officials are doing and planning.

What effects, if any, do you think the name of the East Jersey State Prison (previously Rahway State Prison) has had on Rahway’s local economy and business community over the years?
Rahway is still fighting a perception tied to the prison (which technically is in the Avenel section of Woodbridge but a Rahway P.O. Box). In my experience, if Rahway comes up in conversation with folks outside of the city, I find that more often than not, the prison is what people still associate with Rahway even 20-some-odd years after the name change. People more familiar with the city are more likely to see Rahway for its compact, walkable downtown, access to public transportation and major highways, bars and restaurants, and even its own local microbrewery. It’s combating that external perception that poses a Sisyphean task when it comes to redeveloping downtown and marketing the city as a whole.

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