The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University was born in 2012, right before the chaos and confusion of Hurricane Sandy.
At a time when traditional communication channels and information networks were diminished or breaking down, the Center served as a connector and curator for local news providers across the Garden State. Now, as the state, the country, and the world continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19, the Center is again working to make sure its partners have all the tools and resources they need to keep their communities informed during these uncertain and tumultuous times.
Read our COVID-19 response report
As the coronavirus pandemic unfolded, the Center collected feedback from members of its NJ News Commons network about what they were facing and brainstormed solutions.
What resulted were several initiatives to support NJ News Commons members, including:
- An arrangement with NJ Spotlight to provide all of its COVID-19 statewide stories for republication by NJ News Commons members at no cost.
- A pop-up daily newsletter sharing NJ Spotlight content and other reporting resources.
- Arrangements to provide shared graphics and photos for republication.
- Daily communication of COVID-19 related journalism resources, including funding opportunities.
- Translation of COVID-19 content into Spanish, English and Korean.
- Creation of a fellowship to support ethnic media reporters covering COVID-19.
- Creation of a fellowship to support freelancers covering COVID-19 in their communities.
- Launching of the Loved and Lost project.
- Distribution of 20 $250 gift cards to support equipment purchases for journalists.
The translations, which began in March, were first funded by the New Jersey Local News Lab Fund, which is a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey. Since June the work as been funded by a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
This daily COVID-19 newsletter is specifically curated for NJ News Commons and NJ College News Commons partners. It includes links to statewide stories that are available for republication, and a list of newly announced reporting resources, grant opportunities, training sessions and more.
The six-month fellowship program’s purpose is to support, increase and amplify stories about, for and from the perspective of vulnerable communities that are often misreported, and underreported (or completely unreported) during this public health and economic crisis.
The reporting equipment stipend will give out 20 stipends of $250 each. These stipends can be used to buy anything that will help awardees adjust to covering the news during this pandemic (e.g., a new webcam or mic, backpack or carrying case, or a software or service subscription).
The freelancer fund will provide micro-grants of $1,000 each to 15 freelancers across New Jersey covering COVID-19 in their communities. Grantees will be expected to produce 2–3 stories per grant, and will work with the Center as needed to get those stories published or broadcast by local NJ news organizations.