Center for Cooperative Media Launches Local News Lab

The Montclair State University Center for Cooperative Media has announced the launch of the Local News Lab, a collaborative initiative focused on creating a sustainable future for local journalism that helps build and strengthen local communities. Led by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, in partnership with the Center for Cooperative Media, and the City University of New York’s Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism and Center for Community and Ethnic Media, the initiative will aid in creating a network of connected and collaborative journalism efforts that together will create a vibrant news ecosystem.

Initially, the Local News Lab’s efforts mainly will focus on sustainability for six pilot local-news websites: Brick City Live, Jersey Shore Hurricane News, Morristown Green and New Brunswick Today in New Jersey; and The Lo-Down and Sheepshead Bites in New York. The Lab will test new revenue models, strategies for community engagement and collaborative projects to strengthen the journalism ecosystem. Experiments will range from traditional and crowd-funded advertising to events, membership models and new revenue products.

“We’re excited to have the Lab underway,” says Ju-Don Marshall Roberts, director of the Center for Cooperative Media. “It extends the work we have done over the last two years at the Center and will allow the Center and our partner organizations to get much more involved in helping these sites meet their day-to-day revenue challenges.”

“Lab director Joshua Stearns and Dodge’s Molly de Aguilar have made tremendous progress with some of these sites in a very short time. Ultimately, we expect to take the lessons we learn from this experiment and make them available to the larger ecosystems in New Jersey and New York,” Roberts says.

Stearns adds: “This project is a tremendous investment in local news here in New Jersey. We are excited to collaborate with journalists across the state and in New York City to experiment with new models, test risky ideas and deepen their engagement with communities.”

“At the end of the day,” Stearns says, “we want to support journalism that supports communities. None of this work would be possible without the foundation that has been created by the Center for Cooperative Media and its NJ News Commons project, and we see the Center as central to the future of this work.”

Visit the Local News Lab website to learn more about the project and the pilot sites.