About the Center

The mission of the Center for Cooperative Media is to grow and strengthen local journalism and support an informed society in New Jersey and beyond.

The Center was founded in 2012 in response to the downsizing of New Jersey news organizations and the changes in the ownership of regional public media. These shifts in the news and information landscape hurt the volume of local news available in a state that has historically had limited news coverage, due to its proximity to the major metropolitan areas of New York City and Philadelphia. With 565 municipalities packed into a densely populated state, New Jersey was—and is—ripe for innovation in local journalism.

The Center coordinates statewide and regional reporting, connecting more than 280 local news and information providers through its flagship project, the NJ News Commons. The Commons helps partners to share content and encourages them to collaborate and to support one another. The Center also conducts and publishes research on emerging ideas and best practices, focusing on local journalism, business models, and ecosystem mapping. The Center convenes national programs, including an annual national summit for journalism organizations to foster the conditions, ideas, and practices that lead to stronger collaborative journalism across the U.S. The Center’s annual reports offer a detailed history of programs and impact.

The Center is a grant-funded program within the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Funding from the University supports the director’s salary and benefits, office space for the Center and its staff, and infrastructure support and shared services such as IT, development, marketing, and administrative assistance. The Center receives core support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Abrams Foundation, as well as project support from many other grantmaking sources and sponsors.

Mission, vision and values

As a program of the School of Communication within the broader scope of Montclair State University, the Center is situated within the University’s mission, vision and values. The University’s mission statement can be found here and its vision and values can be found here in its Project Soar 2025 strategic plan.

Therefore, it’s important to note the definition of the Center’s own vision and values should be seen through the narrower lens of the Center’s mission, which is tied to local news and information, and not outside the scope of the University’s overarching guidance. We found this exercise to be especially valuable to help us articulate our work to outsiders, especially funders, who seek to understand what the Center is working for while it sits within the broader context of a university setting.

MISSION

The mission of the Center for Cooperative Media is to grow and strengthen local journalism and support an informed society in New Jersey and beyond.

VISION

The Center for Cooperative Media envisions a world where people work together to create the news and information needed to participate in society, tell stories that reflect true experiences, and live with dignity and purpose.

VALUES

  • Access to information: People have universal critical information needs and we believe the work of providing for those critical information needs should be valued and promoted as a necessary public good.
  • Collaboration: We believe that by working together we can do better work than we can alone.
  • Proaction: We believe in taking steps as quickly as possible to respond to problems presented to us and test solutions.
  • Community and inclusivity: We believe it is critical to create a sense of community that is open and welcoming among the people we work with and for.
  • Equity: We believe that access to and distribution of power and resources should be determined using a lens of justice and fairness.
  • Joy: We believe that enjoying our work is essential to successful outcomes.

Strategic objectives

By early March, the Center had defined a core five strategic objectives for the upcoming 3–5 years, and we started to outline way we could execute upon them. The pandemic stopped the entire process in its tracks, however; nearly everything that was not related to COVID-19 response was put on the back burner.

Yet even mid-pandemic reflection has shown us that we were on the right path to begin with. Although COVID-19 delayed us finishing our strategic plan by several months, it only changed one facet of it, and that was the addition of one more strategic objective. All six are listed below:

  • Seize the moment: listen, create, and respond as pandemic conditions change. Accelerate services to CCM’s constituents as they face unprecedented challenges.
  • Enhance the Center’s efforts in equity, diversity, and inclusion and make this work an urgent and visible focus in New Jersey.
  • Improve and expand the Center’s connection with current local news and information partners and potential partners.
  • Grow the Center’s national influence and advocate widely for collaboration.
  • Broaden CCM’s revenue resources by aggressively exploring ways to expand the Center’s revenue base.
  • Regularly exercise the team’s strategy and forecasting muscles, and continuously evaluate program effectiveness against strategic objectives in order to focus on those with highest relevance and impact potential.

How we work

Partnerships
We collaborate with dozens of news and information providers across the state of New Jersey, facilitating our flagship project, a statewide network known as the NJ News Commons.

Collaborations
We coordinate statewide and regional reporting projects, and connect news partners with faculty and students at Montclair State University.

Training & Development
We offer innovative professional development seminars, with training sessions on topics such as data and investigative journalism, fact-checking, OPRA, podcasting, video production, digital sales and business planning, among many others. We also offer one-on-one coaching. Click to see our full training schedule.

Communication
We publish a daily newsletter rounding up the day’s top news stories as reported by our New Jersey news partners. We write about what’s happening in our news ecosystem and blog about industry trends.

Research
The Center’s research agenda is focused on issues impacting local journalism, especially business model and sustainability questions.

National Conference
We host an annual national conference about local journalism. Past conferences have focused on the topics of engagement and innovation; the 2016 conference was about sustainability, Sustain Local 2016. We hosted an international symposium on collaborative journalism in 2017, 2018, and 2019. We hosted the 2020 Collaborative Journalism Summit in place via Zoom on May 14-15, 2020.

The Center is supported with general operational funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge FoundationDemocracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation.

Download our logos

Click the images below to download a copy of our logo: