Seeking Sustainability for Local Journalism

Posted on by Dodge

Dodge Announces $2 million grant from the Knight Foundation

The news coming out of New Jersey for the past month is not the kind of news we, as a state, want to be known for. Yet it does underscore for us at Dodge the importance of having strong, independent media to shine a light in dark corners and to help us understand the information that impacts our daily lives and our communities.

So here’s the good news: the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded a $2 million, two-year grant to the Dodge Foundation to continue their support of our efforts to strengthen and grow New Jersey-focused news and information. Knight previously made an $800,000 grant to Dodge in 2012.

New Jersey has long lived in the shadows of the New York and Philadelphia media markets, leaving New Jerseyans with far less access to high quality news that focuses on the issues and challenges we face in our state.

To tackle this, we have built partnerships with a number of news organizations, nonprofits and journalists, as well as universities over the last three years to establish New Jersey as a model for collaboration and news innovation in the 21st century. What does that look like? For-profit and nonprofit news organizations sharing content and audiences with one anotherlarge-scale reporting collaborationsmicro grants for news start-ups, and a robust array of ongoing learning opportunities for journalists – from data journalism to business training to mobile media basics. There is even such a thing as an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) sherpa – someone who can help journalists increase their chances of successfully receiving the information they seek when they file OPRA requests with the state.

But we need to go even further, and Knight’s support is going to help us do that. Over the next two years, we, along with our partners, plan to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing all news organizations – both for-profit and nonprofit: what does financial sustainability look like, and how does our news ecosystem achieve it? What are the major gaps in coverage, and how do they (sustainably) get filled? How do news organizations connect with their audiences in more meaningful and inclusive ways, so that people feel both informed and actively engaged in their communities?

We invite you to come along with us as we explore solutions to these challenges. We also welcome your suggestions for the gaps in coverage you’d like to see filled: is it news about your town? Perhaps it’s information about a particular topic? Let us know.

Related Reading:

Four new community information investments focus on high-impact projects (Knight Foundation blog)

Searching for the Future of Journalism (Dodge blog)

A Giant Leap for New Jersey News (Dodge blog)

The Emerging New Jersey News Ecosystem: A Summary of Findings (Dodge blog)

You can find the archive of all our media blog posts here, featuring regular blogs by Debbie Galant, Director of the NJ News Commons.

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4 Responses to Seeking Sustainability for Local Journalism

  1. Linda Flanagan says:

    Greetings. My name is Linda Flanagan, and I’m a NJ-based freelance writer. I have a story I’ve done a lot of work on about politics on the Board of Ed in my community, Summit, and wonder where I might find a forum for such a story. Our local paper is The Independent Press, which is frankly embarrassing. The story is too local, I think for the Star Ledger but wonder if anyone there has an idea about where an ultra-local story might find a home. (I write for the Huffington Post, but it’s not a fit for a national audience.) Thanks! Linda

  2. Daniel Karger says:

    Morristowngreen.com is our local start up on-line news organization. They do great news coverage, especially of our theater and music scenes. Their audio-visual coverage of music events is awesome. There is so much going on that we are unaware of and that deserves our support.

    Morristowngreen.com definitely deserves support.

  3. Dodge says:

    Hi Linda –

    You should get in touch with our partners at the NJ News Commons at Montclair State University for some guidance. They may be able to point you in the right direction. See their website here: http://njnewscommons.org/

  4. Dodge says:

    Thanks Daniel – we agree that Morristown Green does great work! Thank you for giving Kevin a shout-out.

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