Montclair Jazz Festival

By DEBBIE GALANT

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly look at the reporting being generated by small news outlets around the state.

How is it that Morristown and Montclair both organized jazz festivals for the exact same day, last Saturday?

Morristown had Bucky Pizzarelli. Montclair had Christian McBride. Morristown’s chief media sponsor was the Star-Ledger. Montclair’s was WBGO. They both had banks: Investors Bank for Morristown, City National and PNC for Montclair.

Imagine the state’s poor beleaguered arts sponsors being forced to choose between jazz fests the same day in two of the state’s tony “M” towns. Imagine the poor jazz fans in Maplewood, essentially equidistant between both festivals. How did they pick? (more…)

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By JOE AMDITIS

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On January 9, the day Bridget Kelly’s famous “time for some traffic problems” email came to light,  NJTV News was all over it — livestreaming Christie’s two-hour press conference,  getting many of the story’s principals on the air during its regular newscast and producing a special report on the scandal.

For its efforts, NJTV News has received its first Mid-Atlantic Emmy nomination for Best Evening Newscast in Larger Markets– going up against much bigger TV news shows in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. has been nominated for its (more…)

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Assemblyman

By JOE AMDITIS

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

Montclair PetitionsThe Montclair municipal clerk received more than 1,600 petition signatures this week calling for Montclair to place a local ordinance on the ballot that would give private sector workers the right to paid sick leave, reports Natalie Hackett of TAP into Montclair. Montclair joins four other New Jersey towns – Irvington, Passaic, Paterson, and Trenton – that have received similar petitions. If approved, the proposed ordinance would provide Monctclair’s private sector employees with the right to earn paid sick leave.

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New Jersey will be electing one U.S. senator, 12 U.S. representatives, and 45 school board members this November. It’s our job, as reporters, to go beyond the rhetoric and the slick campaign ads and let the voters know what’s really on the table.

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Join the Center for Cooperative Media on Wed. Oct. 8 from 9:30 to 3:30 as we take a deep dive into political reporting and give you and your newsroom colleagues the tools to keep the politicians honest.

In the morning, the American Press Institute’s Fact-Checking Project will teach how to check the claims and rhetoric coming from political advertisements, stump speeches and debates.

Six experienced scholars representing universities from Wyoming to the U.K. are working with the American Press Institute to study fact-checking and how to improve it. The group joined API’s fact-checking project, announced in February, with plenty of experience in the study of information, misinformation and how facts are processed.

API’s training will teach you the best practices based on their research.

In the afternoon, the Sunlight Foundation will help you follow the “dark money” behind shady political ads. From Sunlight:

Just who is behind those “mystery meat” groups with names like “Jerseyans for a Better Jersey” or (this is a real one) “Save Our Future Now” dumping zillions of last-minute political ads into the campaign you’re covering? The proliferation of political groups thinly disguised as nonprofits makes following the money in politics harder than ever — but there is one place this dark money organizations do leave a paper trail: at the TV stations where they buy their ads. Join the Sunlight Foundation, the Internet Archive and Philadelphia’s Committee of Seventy in an ambitious project to track the air wars and the money behind them. We’ll show you how to use — and improve — the data tools we built and talk about how they can be deployed to illuminate the dark corners of politics at federal, state and local levels.

The full day of training, from 9:30 to 3:30, is free. Just sign up on Eventbrite. The workshop, which includes lunch, will take place in 311 Schmitt Hall at Montclair State University. Here’s how to find us.

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By JOSH STEARNS

Welcome to the Local Fix. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news, starting with one good idea…

One good ideaFind Your Mentors. Whether you are a freelancer, run your own community news site, or just feel isolated in your newsroom, building a network of people who can help support and challenge you is critical. As more and more journalists are going it alone, Poynter offers some tips on how to connect with mentors inside and outside of newsrooms.

(The Local Fix is going on vacation next week, but we’ll be back soon!)

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CATS The Musical

By JOE AMDITIS

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

AirportMore than $3.6 million in federal grant money was awarded for imporovements to three of New Jersey’s airports, including the Essex County Airport, reports TAP into West Essex. The Essex County airport was awarded $200,000 in grant money, which will go toward the removal of obstructions on two of its runways. Newark-Liberty International Airport received the largest sum, with a total of $3.4 million in grant money that will be put toward the construction of a new apron to allow for additional aircraft parking.

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By JOSH STEARNS

Welcome to the Local Fix. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news, starting with one good idea…

One good ideaBuild a Time Machine. Thanks to a new feature in Google street view, you can compare how a location looks today with how it looked as far back as 2007. Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, picked out a few community landmarks and invited their readers back in time. Using the before and after pictures can be a great way to report on how local communities are changing, zoning and land use issues (all while tapping into local nostalgia).

If you like the Local Fix, would you share it with a friend? https://tinyletter.com/jcstearns. Want to send tips? Just hit reply or find me on Twitter.

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By JOE AMDITIS

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

runnersIn Westfield, runners from 226 towns across New Jersey took to the streets in the face of a thunderstorm to participate in the 13th annual Downtown Westfield 5K & Pizza Extravaganza, reports Jackie Lieberman of TAP into Westfield. The proceeds from the race will be used to improve Westfield’s streetscape with new steetlights, crosswalks, landscaping, and sidewalks.

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Good news for investigative reporting in New Jersey. The Center for Cooperative Media will be hosting two specialized trainings, free, in the next few months.

First up, veteran investigative reporter Ben Lesser will show us how to use SQLite. SQLite is a free extension for your web browser to help you to organize and sort data — whether you’re analyzing municipal budgets or food inspection reports. Use data to tell more sophisticated stories, and concentrate your reporting efforts on the right subjects.

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By JOSH STEARNS

Welcome to the Local Fix. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news, starting with one good idea…

One Good IdeaGrabbing New Readers With Local Passions. Check out how the Dallas Morning News is building on and offline communities through targeted blogs focused on local passions and collaborating with a growing community of contributors.

Building Trust With Local Audiences: Competing research and concrete ideas

At the International Journalism Festival this spring Eric Scherer of France Television argued that “The next big thing is not attention, the next big thing is trust.” But in June Gallop reported that “Americans’ faith in each of three major news media platforms — television news, newspapers, and news on the Internet — is at or tied with record lows.” NetNewsCheck points to two other studies of local news that show somewhat better results. For local journalists, developing and maintaining the trust of your community is absolutely essential. What I like about a brand new report just out from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is that it looks at both how to build trust in journalism, but also how journalism can build trust in society at large. The report features useful case studies and concrete ideas for building trust (full PDF of the report here, summary post here). Poynter also has a good round-up of 7 steps for building trust and credibility online.

Fortune reported this week that “people feel deceived when they realize an article or video is sponsored by a brand, and believe it hurts the digital publisher’s credibility” and Jeff Jarvis wrote that sponsored content can devalue media brands and erode trust when not labeled properly.

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