Our first peer-to-peer mentoring group was formed for the seven start-up sites that won grants as part of our Fall 2013 Grow & Strengthen initiative. On the second Wednesday of every month, entrepreneurs meet to discuss common issues such as finding audience, adopting new technologies, and finding new revenue streams. We have now opened this group up to all news entrepreneurs in New Jersey.
A year ago, Dave Stanton, a Florida-based web developer, journalist and teacher, started a Kickstarter campaign to create a suite of online coding classes for journalists. “We have a pipeline problem for people with data and programming skills in journalism,” he said in his Kickstarter video.
The NJ News Commons wants to encourage news organizations and journalists throughout the state to dig deep to uncover stories that lie beneath the surface. We can’t create the time to do this, but we can help you organize your time, and learn how to use data, public records and interview techniques to get to the truth.
Ben Lesser, an adjunct at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a former investigative reporter for both The Record and the New York Daily News, has taught investigative reporting both to Hack Jersey and NJ News Commons Grow & Strengthen micro-grant recipients.
Lesser is available to provide individualized coaching, free, to any NJ News Commons partner or New Jersey journalist working on local or statewide issues in the state. Just click here to request help.
The Open Public Records Act — otherwise known as New Jersey’s “Right to Know Law” — sets up procedures for the public, and press, to request government records. But actually using OPRA to get the documents you want isn’t necessarily easy. The law itself is 22 pages long, and contains myriad procedures, exemptions, limitations and deadlines. (The state’s guide to OPRA can be found here.) How you craft your request is crucial to whether you’ll get the documents you need to tell important news stories.
The NJ News Commons can now help coach its news partners, and their staffs, through the process. To get help filing an OPRA request, simply write to email@example.com, tell us who you are, who you work for, how to reach you — and explain what you’re trying to find out. The service is confidential and free to all partners of the NJ News Commons and working journalists in New Jersey.
The NJ News Commons is dedicated to both improving journalism in the state and helping sustain it. To that end, we offer training on subjects ranging from data journalism to business models for news sites. Upcoming trainings include:
— CJET, or Community Journalism Executive Training, is a 2-1/2 day program geared towards the unique needs of entrepreneurial local publishers. CJET will be offered on the campus of Montclair State University May 16-18. The Patterson Foundation and the Dodge Foundations are sponsors, and the 2013 class has been selected. Read more about CJET here.
— Mobile Media Basics (webinar) will be offered Wednesday, June 26 at 2 p.m. eastern time. Featuring Amy Gahran, this mobile strategy training is co-sponsored by the Knight Digital Media Center and the NJ News Commons. Learn how your news site must adapt to survive in an increasingly mobile age. Read more and register here.
— Video for Busy News Sites. Steve Johnson, assistant professor of electronic journalism at Montclair State University, along with Sylvia Jauregui, of Elizabeth Inside Out, will show local news editors the quickest ways to shoot, upload and edit video for their sites. July 2013. Date TBD. Schmitt 311, Montclair State University.
— Be a Local Publisher with Kenny Katzgrau and John Crepezzi of Broadstreet Ads, authors of the Be a Local Publisher guide, and Debbie Galant, director of the NJ News Commons and founder of Baristanet. Fall 2013. Date TBD.
— CJET 100-Day Reunion. Thursday, Sept 12, 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Schmitt 311, Montclair State University.
— Hack Jersey Hack Day. Saturday, Sept. 21, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Venue TBD.
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS (more…)
The NJ News Commons Story Exchange is an initiative to facilitate sharing within the New Jersey news ecosystem. The Story Exchange is built on the Repost.us platform that allows news stories to be embedded as easily as YouTube videos.
Although it might seem counterintuitive for news sites to offer their content freely to other sites, the Story Exchange offers advantages to organizations that choose to share: traffic, new readers and the ability to send advertisements with the stories they share. (more…)
The NJ News Commons is working with faculty of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University to connect students in the program with Commons partners. All SCM students have a rigorous grounding in communications studies and theory, and many have special training in video and audio production. Journalism students in the English Department are also available to participate in our internship programs.
The NJ News Commons can provide its news partners with temporary office space, as well as use of our state-of-the-art radio facilities and a conference room for meetings. The multimedia news room — used for trainings, internship fairs and weekly brown bag lunches — is intended to provide a collaborative working space for New Jersey news organizations throughout the state. After Hurricane Sandy, our Schmitt Hall facility provided power and internet to news partners without either. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve space in our Schmitt Hall facilities at Montclair State University, and feel free to join us and other partners of the Center for Cooperative Media during our Monday brown bag lunches.
The NJ News Commons is led by Director Debbie Galant — a pioneer in hyperlocal news media. Galant is available to provide advice on starting and running a digital news site, from editorial to business planning to ad sales. Contact Debbie Galant here.
The NJ News Commons has made an investment in growing the pipeline of journalists who are competent in utilizing data to build and support stories and websites. We are a major sponsor of the initiative “For Journalism” — a curriculum being generated by journalists and developers from The New York Times, NPR, the Associated Press and ProPublica. All data journalism trainings and course materials developed by this initiative will be made available — free of charge — to Commons partner organizations and Montclair State University faculty, staff and students. For more information, email email@example.com.