Center for Cooperative Media

Research & Reports

Our research director

Sarah Stonbely, PhD is the research director for the Center for Cooperative Media. With the director and associate director, she devises the research agenda, which supports the Center’s mission to grow and strengthen local news, understand best practices, and gain a deeper understanding of collaborative journalism. The research team includes two part-time research assistants and several project-based consultants.

Sarah can be reached at stonbelys@montclair.edu.

News Ecosystem Mapping Project

APRIL 2020 – Welcome to our local news provider map. This is our inaugural effort to map the local news providers serving New Jersey. We hope this map and its attendant search function will be useful to many audiences, including funders, academics, and the general population who want to discover local news providers near them.

Collaborating for change: Approaches to measuring the impact of collaborative journalism

AUGUST 2020 – Collaborative journalism, once unfathomable in an industry ruled by competition and the threat of being scooped, has now become commonplace. Collaboration is seen as an effective way to share resources and stretch the thinnest of budgets, to share expertise and data, and to include diverse sources in reporting. And, perhaps most important, collaborative efforts reach larger, more diverse audiences than stories published by a single organization – right?

Adapting to the changing climate: How collaboration addresses unique challenges in climate-change and environmental reporting

JULY 2020 – Climate-reporting collaborations, in which a news organization or journalist joins forces with other news organizations or affiliated groups to cover climate change and the environment, have rapidly expanded over the past decade. This report provides an overview of this trend; it establishes reasons why collaboration is well-suited to address the unique challenges of reporting on climate change and the environment; and finally, this research outlines potential opportunities and needs within this subfield for journalists and funders to consider.

The Journalism Pipeline: The state of journalism in New Jersey public high schools

APRIL 2020 – That lack of research at the high school level was a key reason the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University decided to study the prevalence of journalism education in New Jersey’s public high schools and the journalism they are (or are not) producing. This work is part of the Center’s ongoing research into local news ecosystems in New Jersey and its mission to support journalism in the state. It is the Center’s hope that this work will be replicated in other U.S. states.

The state of ethnic and community media in New Jersey

By Sarah Stonbely and Oni Advincula

JUNE 3, 2019 – This report catalogues the ethnic and community news outlets serving New Jersey, provides both quantitative and qualitative description of their operations, and discusses both achievements and challenges that are common among them. The report concludes with recommendations for how the Center and others might support them as they continue to serve as crucial news and information providers to their respective communities.

Health and wealth in local news: Examining community wealth, publisher background, source of revenue

OCT. 11, 2018 – This research looks at the influence of three commonly cited features on the success of digital local news outlets: the background of the publisher, experimentation with different revenue streams, and the wealth of the surrounding community. Of the three, only the wealth of the community is statistically correlated with “success” (which we define as organizational longevity + three indicators of economic success).

What do New Jersey news consumers want? Assessing satisfaction with local news

MAR. 29, 2018 – Local news outlets are competing for the attention of their audiences like never before. In the current high-choice environment, what can local news providers do to make sure their news is valuable to their audiences? Likewise, what kinds of data do organizations whose missions are to support and strengthen local news need to do their work? This report lays some groundwork for answering these questions.

Comparing models of collaborative journalism

SEP. 29, 2017 – In her research, Stonbely focused on cooperative arrangements, formal and informal, between two or more news and information organizations which aim to supplement each group’s resources and maximize the impact of the content produced. She separates various kinds of collaboration by comparing levels of integration versus time, which, when viewed on a matrix, creates six models of collaborative journalism

Layoffs in Local Newsrooms: Documenting the changing New Jersey local journalism ecosystem (2016-17)

MAR. 17, 2017 – New Jersey saw significant cuts to its journalism corps in 2016. This was primarily due to the acquisition of North Jersey Media Group by Gannett Co. and ensuing layoffs, although other media organizations contracted as well. This report seeks to document the North Jersey layoffs, and to provide more detail about who and what was lost to the local journalism ecosystem in the process.What impact did these layoffs have on the news and information provided by these outlets? Our research found clear evidence of decreases in substantive community news and information.