It is awards season – the time of year when “the best” in everything from music and movies to books and journalism is rewarded. For the second consecutive year, the Center for Cooperative Media’s (CCM) NJ News Commons Excellence in Local News Awards have recognized the very best in local journalism published in 2018 by online, print, broadcast, photo, radio multimedia, campus and other local New Jersey-based journalists. Several University-affiliated efforts were recognized at the February 8 ceremony held at Capital Craft in Green Brook, New Jersey.
Among the winners was the Free Press, which won this year’s Sustain Local Award for conceiving of and leading a campaign to create the Civic Information Consortium, an innovative, collaborative nonprofit dedicated to strengthening local news coverage and boosting civic engagement in New Jersey. Montclair State is a member of this new consortium of five leading New Jersey public institutions.
School of Communication and Media professor Thomas Franklin won the Investigate Local award for his multimedia TAPinto Newark story about immigrant Daniel Castro who was hoping to avoid deportation while waiting in an ICE detention center while a judge reviewed his case.
The Montclarion, the University newspaper, was recognized as the runner-up in the new Campus Watchdog Award category.
The awards reflect the CCM’s mission to serve New Jersey citizens by growing and strengthening local journalism. Reporting from 2019 NJ News Commons Excellence in Local News Awards winners and other New Jersey journalists and media are featured in the daily NJ News Commons e-newsletter, which offers an insightful and informative roundup of the state’s biggest stories.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the chaos and uncertainty in the local news industry over the past decade or so,” says CCM Associate Director Joseph Amditis. “But it’s important to take a moment to recognize and remember that there are still local journalists out there who are doing great reporting on a daily basis despite all the chaos. We also feel it’s important to honor those who go beyond the traditional duties of a local reporter by finding new and innovative ways to serve their communities and the larger journalism ecosystem.”
Amditis and CCM Director Stefanie Murray presented awards in collaboration, innovation, sustainability, campus media, investigative reporting and engagement at a ceremony and luncheon at Capital Craft in Green Brook, New Jersey on February 8.
The award recipients were chosen by a three-judge panel composed of CCM Director Stefanie Murray; Naemma Campbell, Dodge Foundation Program Associate, Environment and Informed Communities; and New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists board member Miriam Ascarelli from 36 online submissions. “Anyone can submit their own work or the work of others, but the majority of the submissions tend to be from the authors and reporters themselves,” explains Amditis.
Amditis and Murray additionally presented awards to:
- Talking Eyes Media won the Collaborate Local award by leveraging the power of cooperative or strategic partnerships for The Newest Americans: Stories from the Global City, collaborative project that chronicled the immigrant experience in Newark. net was the runner-up.
- The Streetlight – a publication by The College of New Jersey student with and for people experiencing homelessness in the Trenton, NJ area – won the Engage Local awards for its stories that relied on community engagement or similar practices as major sources of their reporting. Northern New Jersey All Incidents was the runner-up.
- Free Press won the Sustain Local Award for addressing revenue and sustainability issues innovatively and effectively.
- The Rozzi Media Group received the Innovate Local award for its OPRAmachine, a free tool that uses new and emerging technologies to streamlines the public records request profess across New Jersey.
- School of Communication and Media professor Thomas Franklin of TapInto won the Investigate Local award for reporting that made a demonstrable impact on the communities it served, while NJ Pen was the runner-up.
- The Gothic Times was the first recipients of the new Campus Watchdog award, which honored investigative reporting that impacted their college or university communities. The Montclarion was the runner-up.
- Mike Rispoli of Free Press won the 2018 NJ News Commons Partner of the Year in recognition of the overall excellence of their work. The Streetlight was the runner-up.