local beat

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.

broadstreet150

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.

Blargo

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

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

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. (more…)

ben lesser

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.

OPRA Sherpa

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 opra@njnewscommons.org, 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.

training

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…)

Daily news curation2

Five days a week, the NJ News Commons reviews the output of news organizations around the state and features the best in a daily newsletter. We look for themes, see how different outlets cover the same story, and feature stories from both the biggest newsrooms and the smallest. Our goal is to recognize the best journalism about New Jersey and to create a quick read for people who want to know what’s going on in the state.

Daily news curation is designed to raise the visibility of New Jersey news media, drive more readers to news sites, create better informed news consumers, identify best practices, and improve both the quality and health of news coverage in the state.

Daily aggregation can be found on our Daily News Curation page or can be delivered daily to your inbox by signing up here. Every Thursday, our newsletter focuses exclusively on hyperlocal outlets throughout the state.

Story Exchange art

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…)

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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.

For more information on internship opportunities, contact njnewscommons@gmail.com or Elaine Russo.

Schmitt offices

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 njnewscommons@gmail.com 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.