Basic Data Tools for Local Journalists Banner
Basic Data Tools for Local Journalists

Monday Apr 11, 2016  |  0 comments

Data is all the rage these days, but most local newsrooms simply can’t afford the cost of hiring a data journalist or maintaining a full-time data team. Luckily, there are plenty of free online alternatives out there that local, entrepreneurial, and freelance journalists can use to spruce up their content and add context to their stories.

Below is a list of a few data tools and services that backpack journalists can use in a pinch — without breaking the bank. The list isn’t even close to exhaustive, but it should contain enough information to get you started. I’ve also included a list of helpful tutorials and online resources at the bottom to help you navigate your way around some of the tools and concepts mentioned in this post…

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Reboot: The Return of Peer-to-Peer Sessions

Thursday Mar 31, 2016  |  2 comments

It’s been a long time since we last held a peer-to-peer group session for NJ news entrepreneurs. We used to hold monthly meetings at Montclair State and via Zoom Conference where we’d bring together independent publishers and news entrepreneurs to discuss the challenges they faced. The goal was to get people in the same room to exchange best practices and hopefully find solutions that just don’t show up in a Google search.

Design Thinking Session (cropped)
Thinking It Through: Using design thinking to connect with your community

Wednesday Mar 16, 2016  |  0 comments

This week, the students of the CUNY Social Journalism program descended upon the Sheraton Times Square Hotel to host a day-long innovation challenge using design thinking at NYC16, the College Media Association’s Spring National Media Convention.

The challenge was pretty straightforward: Use design thinking to come up with ideas to improve the media experience of women on college campuses.

Ask Us Anything – Social
We’re creating a FAQ!

Tuesday Mar 15, 2016  |  1 comment

Attention curious people!

Do you have a question about the ins and outs of publishing and media? Is there some skill or piece of information that you’ve always wanted to know, but you can’t seem to find the answer on Google? Use our new Hearken module below to ask us your questions and we’ll do our best to answer them. We might even turn your question into a video tutorial.

We’re looking for questions about legal issues, graphics, audio and video software, editing techniques, ethics, publishing guidelines, reporting tips, OPRA requests, and more. Whatever it is, there’s an answer out there somewhere and we’re offering to help you find it. If something has you stumped or confused, just let us know and we’ll investigate it.

Once we start receiving questions, we’ll begin the process of finding the answers. Questions that come up a lot will eventually be turned into video tutorials, training sessions, and workshops. The answers will be displayed on a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page that we’ll be adding to our homepage in the near future, along with a list of additional resources and helpful tools to make sure you find the answers you’re looking for.

So without further adieu, ask us anything!

Stay with us as we report statewide election results in real time!

Tuesday Nov 03, 2015  |  0 comments

Who’s surged ahead? Who’s fallen behind? Who’s out of the running? We’ll be updating all Assembly races through the night.

Need Video? Try Our Wired Jersey Crew

Thursday Oct 23, 2014  |  0 comments

wired jersey crew

Videos are great additions to news and feature stories, but most niche and local news sites don’t have the time or resources to create them. That’s where our Wired Jersey news production class might be able to help. Led by Emmy-award-winning network TV producer Steve McCarthy, the class is looking for stories to produce — and is willing to travel within the state. Please submit your ideas for stories to Debbie Galant. We’ll work with McCarthy and his crew to prioritize requests. Here are some examples of student work.

local beat
Local Beat

Wednesday Oct 01, 2014  |  0 comments

Each Thursday, the NJ News Commons publishes a roundup of the best local reporting for the week. The post is available to embed, like all our other stories, via iCopyright, and is picked up weekly by NJ.com.

We collect our stories using a Reddit subpage and invite all community and niche news sites in New Jersey to submit their very best stories weekly with a brief explanation on why that submission is exceptional. We consider all submissions.

REMEMBER: All articles must be be submitted to www.reddit.com/r/localbeatnj.

If you have any questions, or want to be put on the list to get a weekly reminder to submit, please email Joe Amditis, coordinator for the Center for Cooperative Media.


Friday May 23, 2014  |  0 comments

Blargo is a mobile-responsive WordPress theme created by Broadstreet Ads to make it easy for news startups to get up and running quickly and easily.


Broadstreet created the free open-source content management system for the NJ News Commons’s Grow and Strengthen Class of 2013. It is available to everyone.

Blargo was built as a child theme of the popular Largo theme, which was built by the Investigative News Network. That project is also actively supported, and is used by a number of well-known news organizations.

Full download and documentation for Blargo can be found here. For more questions, write to blargo@broadstreetads.com.

Peer-to-Peer Mentoring

Tuesday Mar 04, 2014  |  1 comment

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. Now, with the second group of Grow & Strengthen grant winners, the Center for Cooperative Media has decided to open these sessions to all entrepreneurial journalists in New Jersey.

At peer-to-peer sessions, news entrepreneurs meet — either virtually or in person — to discuss common issues such as growing audience, adopting new technologies, attracting reliable freelancers and developing new revenue streams.

Peer-to-peer sessions will now be the first Tuesday of every month from noon to 2 p.m . and the second Wednesday of every month from 5 to 7 p.m. The Tuesday meetings will take place both in Schmitt Hall 311 at Montclair State, and virtually. The Wednesday meetings are virtual only.

To join the Tuesday meetings virtually, please go to https://zoom.us/j/756961850 or go to https://zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID: 756 961 850. (Alternatively, dial (415)762-9988 or (646)568-7788 and enter the same meeting code.)

To join the Wednesday meetings, please go to https://zoom.us/j/843546856 or go to https://zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID: 843 546 856. (Alternatively, dial (415)762-9988 or (646)568-7788 and enter the same meeting code.)

for journalism
Learn to Code, Chart and Map via For Journalism

Wednesday Feb 26, 2014  |  0 comments

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 Kickstarter campaign met its goals, and Stanton has rolled out five of the 10 classes he originally envisioned. The curriculum currently includes Django, Charting & Visualization, Responsive Design, Mapping and Cybersecurity. Coming: Ruby on Rails, Devops, Data Science & Statistics, and Javascript.

ben lesser
Let Us Help With Investigative Reporting

Wednesday Jan 22, 2014  |  0 comments

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.

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