NJ News Commons Receives Grant to Grow NJ News Ecosystem

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.