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

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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