Breaking News in New Jersey

The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State’s School of Communication and Media is making news with two yearlong collaborative enterprise journalism projects: “In the Shadow of Liberty: New Jersey Immigration” and “Dirty Little Secrets.” The Center’s innovative work is funded in large part by grants from The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Map of toxic sites in New Jersey.
A map of toxic sites created by media partner WNYC’s Sarah Gonzalez

“The goal of these collaborative projects is to bring an economy of scale to reporting so the work has a bigger, more statewide impact than it would have had otherwise,” says Center for Cooperative Media Director Stefanie Murray.

More than 1.9 million immigrants from all over the world call New Jersey home. Since February, the Center’s New Jersey News Commons has been partnering with community and ethnic media on a project titled “In the Shadow of Liberty,” with in-depth research and coverage of immigration issues. Funded by donations received through beaconreader.com, a journalism crowdfunding site, the series examines the struggles and achievements of New Jersey’s documented and undocumented immigrants.

With the Center’s first and ongoing project, titled “Dirty Little Secrets,” the Center and its media partners are looking closely at the state’s more than 13,000 toxic sites and their potential to undermine environmental and human health. The research-driven series received early praise from the Columbia Journalism Review for embodying “the future of investigative reporting at the local level.”

Murray agrees. “Journalists working together across company lines for the benefit of citizens, in the public interest, is a critical new model in our field. New Jersey is leading the nation with respect to this kind of model,” she notes. “We’re seeing that the work the Center has led in this area is being replicated more and more across the country.”