The Best Local Reporting of 2013

It’s been a year of serious highs for New Jersey’s local news media.

Justin Auciello of Jersey Shore Hurricane News — whose work is now being picked up by NewsWorks — writes that the best stories were “emotionally challenging to write.” That can be said for many of the best local reporting of the year.

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Seaside Park boardwalk one week after a devastating fire. Credit: Justin Auciello

Two of those stories for Auciello: profiling a Long Beach Island resident who kept a positive attitude in the face of the total devastation of her home, and touring the Seaside boardwalk fire site one week after the conflagration.


For Cynthia Cumming of The Alternative Press of West Orange, the story of the year was written by Joshua Feinblatt, a staffer and a member of the West Orange High School Boys Varsity Soccer Team.  Feinblatt writes well and movingly about how a cancer diagnosis for one teammate, Matt Wilson, brought the team together and inspired this 15th-seeded team to win the Division 4 state championship.

Jackie Lieberman of Westfield TAP says the “hard one” for her to write was one of her first “bad news” stories (she spent years as a food writer where , she writes, “the worst thing that happens is your cheesecake cracks.”)

“When moms I knew started telling me that their child’s friend died from the flu that day,” Lieberman told NJ News Commons, “I knew I had to get the facts and get the story out quickly. But I also wanted to respect the family and those in our community who were grieving the sudden loss of this high school freshman. I couldn’t sensationalize it. I couldn’t guess. I wanted this story to be perfect.” Read the story here.

We loved Edible Jersey‘s “Swords to Plowshares” story about war veterans who found therapy in horticulture. New Jersey State of the Arts produced many noteworthy video reports, but a segment on teens from Trenton working with the Passage Theatre Company on a production about the future of their city really stands out. John T. Ward’s story about cyclist Cole Porter was well research, well written and riveting. And Jerry DeMarco is now doing standout work on crime and corruption in Bergen County (with Cliffview Pilot) and at Elizabeth Inside Out, as the new managing editor.

Finally, we must give a shout-out to all the local news media along the Jersey Shore — including Patch editors like Daniel Nee and Greg Kyriakakis — for terrific day-in, day-out reporting on Sandy recovery.

There’s so much good stuff out there, and limited space here. See our full list below. And send us any “best of 2013” stories we’ve missed:

Our full roundup:

Garden State Plaza Shooter used rifle similar to AK-47 Cliffview Pilot
Oldest Living Medal of Honor Recipient, 96, dies in Englewood, local officer salutes him Cliffview Pilot
Video: NJ State Police dashboard camera shows Bergen County Police confrontation Cliffview Pilot
Elizabeth tax preparer pleads guilty to $30M mortgage fraud Elizabeth Inside Out*
Professor Harold Hill and Marion Paroo from “The Music Man” visit Cranford Cranford Radio
Homicide at 3rd & Jefferson Hoboken 411
“Maxwell’s” Location Now Hiring…Hmm Hoboken 411
UPDATE: Toms River’s Disaster Recovery Ombudsman Starts Work Monday Toms River Patch
Westfield High School Mourns Upon Hearing of Student’s Death Yesterday TAP Westfield
Westfield’s Own ‘Cake War?’ Locals Debate After Carlo’s Opens Near a Longtime Staple TAP Westfield
West Orange Boys Soccer Forward Matt Wilson an Inspiration To All TAP West Orange
‘Everything was right’ in Cyclist’s Life Red Bank Green
For One LBI Resident, life is better post-Sandy NewsWorks*
A week later, touring the Seaside Park boardwalk fire scene NewsWorks*
This Trenton Life State of The Arts NJ
Watergate: Cover-up at New Brunswick Water Facility New Brunswick Today
Video: An historic day in historic Morristown, as town hall hosts its first gay wedding Morristown Green*
Prosecutor’s Office to Meet with Princeton Officials to Discuss Parking Meter Scandal Planet Princeton
It’s Official: Whole Foods Coming to Newark in Historic Hahne’s Building Glocally Newark*


*Asterisks are available for reposting through the NJ News Commons Story Exchange.

NJ News Commons’ intern Andrew Guadagnino, a senior Communications and Media Arts major at Montclair State University, contributed to this report.

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