The NJ News Commons is offering micro-grants and other resources to strengthen existing hyperlocal news sites and help launch new ones. The project, called “Grow and Strengthen,” is funded through a grant from the New Jersey Recovery Fund.
Superstorm Sandy exposed the faults in society’s infrastructure — including the news infrastructure. The NJ News Commons’ “Grow and Strengthen” initiative aims to build up the state’s news assets.
The “Grow and Strengthen” project will award up to eight $2,500 grants to existing hyperlocal news sites as a freelance budget for an in-depth reporting project. Preference will be given to sites in Sandy-ravaged areas, but all local investigative reporting projects will be considered. NJ News Commons will help sites use the Open Public Records Act and employ data journalism skills.
In addition, six citizen journalist/entrepreneurs will be selected to launch new sites for underserved communities. These can be freelancers or others interested in starting a news site. Each will receive a $3,500 grant along with training in setting up a site and managing a small news venture.
A panel of judges will select the grant recipients. Judges include Star-Ledger columnist and Pulitzer finalist Mark DiIonno; Merrill Brown, director of the School of Communication and Media; and hyperlocal publisher and investigative journalist Polly Kreisman
Applications for each program must be received by Monday, September 9 at 11:59 pm. If you have any questions or nominees to recommend, please write to Laurie Petersen, a veteran Hoboken-based journalist who is managing the program under the supervision of Debbie Galant.