The NJ News Commons, an initiative of Montclair State
University’s School of Communication and Media, was recently awarded a $75,000
grant to help incubate news sites in the state.
The grant is part of the New Jersey Recovery Fund, which announced
27 grants totaling $3.8 million last week. The purpose of the fund, which
is supported by 25 different foundations, is to help the state “pursue smart
recovery decisions” so New Jersey can “avoid repeating the type of devastation
caused by Superstorm Sandy.”
The NJ News Commons plans to use the funds to distribute
micro-grants to entrepreneurs to start news sites for under-covered geographic
areas, populations or subjects. The grants will be accompanied by training and
ongoing consultation about starting a news site. In addition, the Commons plans
to distribute micro-grants to existing hyperlocal news sites in the state to
embark on in-depth reporting projects.
“I’m excited about finding entrepreneurs and helping them
channel their creativity and passion into brand new news ventures,” says Debbie
Galant, director of the NJ News Commons, who, in 2004, founded Baristanet, one of
the first and best known hyperlocal online news sites in the U.S.
The NJ News Commons is funded by grants from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and resides within the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State. Its aim is to grow and strengthen New Jersey’s news infrastructure at a time when conventional news outlets are undergoing significant downsizing.