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The Montclair State University Center for Cooperative Media is pleased to announce the launch of the Local News Lab, a collaborative initiative focused on journalism sustainability led by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, in partnership with the Center for Cooperative Media, and the City University of New York’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism and Center for Community and Ethnic Media.

The Local News Lab’s efforts mainly will focus on sustainability for six pilot sites: Brick City Live, Jersey Shore Hurricane News, Morristown Green and New Brunswick Today in New Jersey; and The Lo-Down and Sheepshead Bites in New York. The Lab will test new revenue models, strategies for community engagement and collaborative projects to strengthen the journalism ecosystem. Experiments will range from traditional and crowd-funded advertising to events, membership models and new revenue products.

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Grow and Strengthen is an ongoing project of the NJ News Commons to helping seed new news sites in New Jersey, and prod existing hyperlocals to deepen their coverage. Initially funded with a grant from the New Jersey Recovery Fund, the Commons seeded seven news sites in fall of 2013 and awarded seven grants for in-depth reporting. A second start-up class of news start-ups will begin in the summer of 2014.

News sites funded by Grow and Strengthen function as a class, attending trainings together and supporting each other through monthly peer-to-peer mentoring.

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Every week we have a conversation with journalists around the state about something they’ve been working on. Shows have focused on subjects ranging from street violence to Lakewood’s Tent City. Listen to our most recent show, or peruse our archives, here. And if you use iTunes or any other podcast client, just search for “The News in Jersey” and add us to your subscription list.

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The Immigration Project is a collaborative reporting effort — spearheaded by NJ News Commons — involving approximately 10 reporters and news agencies in New Jersey to cover the under-reported topic of immigration in the Garden State, which ranks fifth nationwide in the number of foreign-born residents and third in percentage. Read more about The Immigration Project here. For more information or to participate, contact njnewscommons@gmail.com.

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CJET, or Community Journalism Executive Training, is a special 2 1/2-day workshop being offered by the NJ News Commons to help entrepreneurial news organizations become more business savvy. CJET will take place on May 16-18, 2013 at Montclair State’s Center for Cooperative Media, and is supported by the Patterson Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Twenty news sites will be selected to participate and will receive the training for free. Applications are due March 20. Read more here.

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In January 2013, the NJ News Commons and Montclair State hosted the first hackathon in New Jersey to involve both coders and journalists. The weekend-long event, called Hack Jersey, featured a Friday-night party where teams began to form, a series of speakers including Matt Ericson of The New York Times, and a 24-hour contest to create data visualizations and news apps.

Many organizations came together to organize and sponsor the event. The other major sponsor besides the NJ News Commons was Mozilla Open News. (more…)

Sandy

Before and during Hurricane Sandy, news organizations across the state of New Jersey scrambled to put resources in place to cover the storm. Utilizing the ScribbleLive platform and the hashtag #NJSandy, the NJ News Commons created a live blog, which pulled a multitude of tweets, photos, videos and stories into one place.

Many hyperlocal sites — including Baristanet, Hoboken 411, MyVeronaNJ, The Boken, Morristown Green, Cliffview Pilot and Elizabeth Inside Out — both contributed content to the #NJSandy blog and embedded it on their sites, generating an astounding 200,000 pageviews during the week of the storm.

Read more about the project in the essay, “The Million Reporters of Hurricane Sandy,” published on the Dodge Foundation blog.

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Hurricane Sandy arrived a week before the 2012 Presidential election, and even before it made landfall in Atlantic City, many people expressed concern about whether power outages, road closures, evacuations and other infrastructure problems would endanger New Jerseyans’ ability to exercise their right to vote. In cooperation with a consortium of news organizations that included WHYY and NJ Spotlight, the NJ News Commons created a voter hotline where citizens could report problems voting, and a Crowdmap to record and visualize the reported problems. (more…)