In-Depth Hyperlocal Reporting Gets $17,500 Shot of Support

In a mission to support deeper news coverage in New Jersey, seven established hyperlocal NJ news organizations will receive a total $17,500 in micro-grants from the NJ News Commons to fund in-depth and investigative reporting projects.

That’s on top of the $28,000 in new start-up grants awarded to grow and strengthen the Garden State’s news ecosystem with money provided by the New Jersey Recovery Fund.

“The judges were impressed by the level of passion and commitment demonstrated by the grant recipients,” said Debbie Galant, director of the NJ News Commons. “Each of them has identified a worthy project for in-depth reporting and, to the majority of the judges’ satisfaction, demonstrated an ability to deliver on their proposal.”

Micro-grants of $2,500 each were awarded to:

  • Esther Surden of West Caldwell, founder of New Jersey Tech Weekly, to study how communities still severely affected by Sandy are using technology, open software and citizen journalists to bring their towns together.
  • Anthony Ewing of Maplewood, founder of food site EthnicNJ, to build an interactive mapping tool measuring the state’s ethnic diversity in multiple dimensions, beyond food.
  • Joe Malinconico of Bayonne, editor of award-winning hyperlocal news service Paterson Press, which has a content sharing agreement with North Jersey Media.
  • Rebecca Abma of Midland Park, founder of Midland Park Press, to continue the hyperlocal efforts she started in her community since leaving Patch.
  • Sean Monahan of New Brunswick, publisher of New Brunswick Today, to support continued hyperlocal reporting efforts in the city.
  • Marissa Klapwald of Summit, development manager of NJ Arts News, to produce three video pieces on the Meadowlands ahead of next year’s Super Bowl.
  • Derek Ware of Newark, founder of GlocallyNewark, to write about African and Afro-Latino residents of the city.

In addition to the financial support, the micro-grant recipients will receive training in how to conduct Open Public Records Act requests and use government databases effectively.

Data journalist Ben Lesser at City University of New York and former New Jersey open record expert Marc Pfeiffer will also be on tap to assist with development of stories.

A panel of distinguished journalists and educators selected the latest micro-grant recipients from a field of 16 applicants. The judges were:

  • Merrill Brown, Director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State and founding editor of
  • Linda Grist Cunningham, editor of KeyWest Watch, Pulitzer judge, and veteran of the Daily Record and Trenton Times in NJ and Rockford, (IL) Register-Star
  • Mark DiIonno, Star-Ledger columnist, Pulitzer finalist and novelist
  • Jeff Jarvis, Professor and Director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and blogger at Buzzmachine
  • Dan Kennedy, assistant professor at Northeastern University, Media Nation blogger, author “The Wired City, Reimagining Journalism and Civic Life in the Post Newspaper Age”
  • Polly Kreisman, editor of, Emmy winning TV journalist and reporter for NY1 TVNews.
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