This fall’s gubernatorial election will mark a pivotal moment for the state of New Jersey.
Chris Christie, the governor with the lowest approval ratings in history, will leave office following a tumultuous eight years as head of the Garden State. The critical election to replace him will play out against a backdrop of national political division and turmoil.
We wanted to ensure that New Jersey citizens were well-informed ahead of the election, and we wanted to do something that helped spark civil dialogue between residents. That’s how the Voting Block project, which launches today, got started.
Voting Block is a collaborative reporting effort to encourage civil political discussion and more informed voters in neighborhoods across New Jersey ahead of this fall’s gubernatorial election. The news partners include WNYC, WHYY, WBGO, NJ Spotlight and The Record, part of the USA Today Network.
The idea to team several New Jersey news organizations on a collaborative project related to this election originally came from Gene Sonn, the news director for WHYY. As we talked through what that could look like with other members of the NJ News Commons, Nancy Solomon, managing editor of New Jersey Public Radio at WNYC, came up with the idea to focus on uniting neighbors in thoughtful political discussions. We added other partners and developed the idea from there.
Each of the main reporting partners focused on a neighborhood and recruited a group of neighbors who agreed to come together over a meal and talk about the governor’s race. The news organizations will follow the neighbors throughout the summer, keeping them connected online and ultimately gathering them again for another discussion before the election and a final statewide convening after the election.
All stories produced by the reporting partners will be aggregated at www.VotingBlockNJ.com.
The Center for Cooperative Media is coordinating the editorial components of the project and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting is coordinating audience engagement components of Voting Block.
Our plan is to expand the project shortly to include more news organizations across the state.
You can read the first three stories here:
- Voting Block: New Jersey neighbors dare to talk politics
- Forget red or blue. In governor’s race, it’s all about green for Westwood voters
- A look at N.J. governor’s race from the blue-collar enclave of Paulsboro
If you think your neighborhood would be interested or willing to participate in Voting Block, let us know. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Featured image: Richard Yeh/WNYC.