Are you a news or information provider based in New Jersey? Then you should be a member of the NJ News Commons.
The NJ News Commons is the flagship project of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. It is a broad network and coalition of organizations and people across the Garden State that work to provide and/or support the creation of quality news and information. Equitable access to accurate information can save lives and is critical for civic health and community resiliency.
All we ask in return is that members show up. You don’t have to pay to join. All you have to do is participate!
If this describes you or your organization, apply to join us as either a media member or an individual stakeholder!
The following page specifically outlines what membership in the NJ News Commons entails in order to give prospective members a better idea of what to expect if they choose to become a part of our network.
VIDEO: The birth of the NJ News Commons
Watch this video recap of the last ten years of the Center’s work, starting with the birth of the NJ News Commons and the growth of the NJ local news ecosystem. Produced by Joe Amditis.
Who is eligible to join?
Any organization or individual person who has a vested interest in quality news and information in New Jersey is eligible to join. People who work directly in media, news or journalism can join as members; people who work outside media but want to support quality news and information can join as a stakeholder.
Joining is free! The NJ News Commons program is supported by the Center for Cooperative Media, which receives operational funding from Montclair State University, Democracy Fund, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Abrams Foundation.
Please note that while you don’t have to pay to join, we do want you to participate. And there are different ways you can show up and support local news as a member of the Commons.
Our goal is to network with as many people and organizations as we can across New Jersey who want to help ensure equitable access to quality news and information.
You can join the NJ News Commons as a member of the media or as a stakeholder. The following categories are offered for the NJ News Commons:
Individual media membership
Community stakeholder membership
What do members get?
All individual media members have access to the following:
Communication and connection
Coaching and counseling
Ethnic and community media support
Training and professional development
Awards and recognition
Access to research
Stipends for association membership
Shared photography and video
Interactions with Montclair State University students
Crisis planning and emergency funds
NJ media mentors program
Exclusive press briefings
All community stakeholders have access to the following:
Communication and connection
Invitations to select events
Access to research
NJ News Commons community guidelines
To be accepted as a member of the NJ News Commons, organizations must:
– Be a news and information provider who serves residents of the state of New Jersey.
– Adhere to a commonly-accepted professional journalism code of ethics, such as the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics or a comparable code, and indicate to us which code they follow.
– Agree to abide by our Community Guidelines (see below).
– Failure to meet any of the above criteria may be grounds for removal from the network.
We also encourage members of the NJ News Commons to:
– Recognize the value of cooperation and seek opportunities to collaborate for the benefit of citizens.
– Remain open to opportunities to work with the Center and its partners.
– Communicate with the Center to help us identify and address needs, issues, concerns, challenges, opportunities, and goals of our partners and others in the local news and information industry.
– Attend events, trainings, and other initiatives organized by the Center that are relevant to their interests and availability.
– Participate in various surveys and information-gathering initiatives.
Additional community guidelines:
These guidelines govern how we expect NJ News Commons members to interact with each other. We ask members of the NJ News Commons and all partners of the Center to conduct themselves accordingly.
View the additional guidelines
– Respect the privacy and personal information of others. No doxing. We strongly discourage people from publishing personal information about others. Do not share personal information about other people that violate their right to privacy.
– Be courteous and constructive. For the sake of a strong and healthy debate, we aim to foster constructive and focused discussion between our members and partners.
– Be open to debate and dissent. One of the most important requirements for maintaining a vibrant intellectual space is to promote and focus on the intelligent discussion of ideas. We are all still learning and no one knows everything.
– Be honest and truthful. Try to be clear and straightforward about what you are saying, but remember that people may interpret your contribution differently than you originally intended. Avoid knowingly disseminating false or misleading information.
– Refrain from personal attacks. Threats and abuse will not be tolerated. We don’t want to stifle debate, but we ask you to find ways to share your views without being divisive, threatening or toxic to others.
– Watch your language. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of hateful speech will not be tolerated. There is a difference between criticizing ideas and attacking people on the basis of their race, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, etc.
– Avoid blatantly commercial or spam-like material. Sharing information that is intended solely for commercial purposes is not permitted.
– Moderators have the final say. When it comes to online forums, groups, and other communication channels, our moderation style is pretty tolerant. Most forms of self-expression are fine, even some of the more colorful or questionable forms, but try not to go overboard. Moderators of our online communities reserve the right to edit or remove a post if it violates any of the above guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What’s the difference between the Center for Cooperative Media and the NJ News Commons?
The Center for Cooperative Media is a program housed within the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University, and its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism and support an informed society in New Jersey and beyond. The NJ News Commons is the Center’s flagship project and it refers specifically to the network of organizations and individuals who have agreed to be members of the Commons.
Who funds the Center?
We are currently funded with operational support by Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Abrams Foundation.
Will you fund me?
In the past, the Center has been able to provide stipends to seed startups and pay for business coaching, fellowships, collaborative reporting projects and revenue experiments. Each of these opportunities has been project-based, however; the Center is not set up to make grants. You can learn about project-based funding we offer by subscribing to our daily and monthly newsletters.
How do I find out if I am a current member of the NJ News Commons?
A list of current NJ News Commons members is available at this link, via Airtable. Additionally, members with lapsed or idle memberships will receive email notices from the Center for Cooperative Media about how to help restore their active membership status.
Do I have to pay to join?
Because the Center for Cooperative Media is a primarily grant-funded initiative at Montclair State University, most of what we offer NJ News Commons members is provided at no cost to our members. So you don’t have to pay to join, but you do have to participate. And there are different ways you can show up and support local news as a member of the New Jersey News Commons. Learn about current programming and activities here.
However, please note that some of our trainings, events and conferences have registration fees, which will be clearly noted on registration forms.
If I am a member of LION or INN, why should I join the NJ News Commons?
We highly encourage New Jersey media who qualify to join the Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN). The Center regularly works with both groups, and we have even paid for free membership to LION in the past.
The NJ News Commons is different in that it is exclusively focused on local news in New Jersey. At the Center we are committed to expanding news and information access to residents across the state. Through the NJ Commons we’ve formed relationships with and helped the efforts of news organizations and freelancers including journalists and media creators.
Currently we are branching out to create a more inclusive membership structure, and adding to our roster of programming and resources for those working within and interested in the state of New Jersey’s news industry.
I want to join the NJ News Commons but I only want to hear from you via email, not Facebook.
The annual NJ News Commons survey includes a question about preferred means of contact. You can also reach out to the Center and the Commons at inf[email protected] to update your contact information.
What kind of coaching do you provide?
Members of the NJ News Commons have access to business and journalism coaching, as well as feedback on grant submissions and more. Any member of the Commons is welcome to call, email, text or otherwise ping the Center when you have a difficult issue to work through, need advice, or need a connection or a referral. Need guidance on an upcoming project? Let us know! The Center can also help connect you to legal, research, grant writing, start up and other resources.
Will you give me money to start a news organization?
Currently, the Center does not provide start-up funding. However, the Center provides a number of support and growth opportunities for fledgling news organizations including training, coaching, referrals to grant and other funding opportunities and grant application reviews, as well as the new NJ Media Mentors program which pairs veteran news professionals with newly launched NJ newsrooms and information projects. To learn more about this and other Center initiatives that support news startups, contact us at [email protected].
How do I know if I am in good standing with the NJ News Commons?
The Center will maintain a membership tracking system to ensure that all statuses for NJ Commons members are current. Once a member submits an application and fills out our annual survey, you are considered to be in good standing. By completing the survey the following year, members meet the minimum requirement for continued NJ News Commons membership. In addition, you can always contact us at [email protected] to inquire about your membership status.