With big companies like the Sinclair Broadcast Group exploiting new FCC rule changes to buy up local news stations — and using them to deliver political propaganda instead of actual news — the need for community-engaged journalism is more critical than ever.
That’s one reason why New Jersey residents are asking lawmakers to dedicate funding to the creation of the Civic Information Consortium, which would unite journalists, organizers, tech innovators, higher-education institutions and communities to create an innovative statewide system of local news and information.
It’s a proposal that could change the game for journalism, and lift up the stories that matter to people in the Garden State.
Since the governor’s election in November, things have been quiet at the statehouse. So, it’s the perfect time to discuss this bill.
Listen to what a few Garden State residents have to say about the Civic Info Bill and why it needs to pass:
“I work with the Flood Board in Little Falls. We now have a preliminary flood-mitigation plan after 11 years of work as a board and five years before that as an individual. Without the help of local newspapers, THIS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.” —Dorothy O., Little Falls
“We need local journalism with real nuance and investigation in Newark.” —Emilio P., Newark
“If New Jerseyans do not see what is happening around us accurately, they will believe whatever firebrand offers ‘truthiness.’ That should scare progressives AND conservatives alike.” —Matthew P., Hoboken
“An informed community makes for a stronger, more vibrant community. A local newspaper helps residents to stay informed on what’s going on in their town. It can enrich locals’ lives through awareness of municipal and civic events.” —Kathleen F., Little Falls
“It is harder and harder to find out what is really going on. Citizen journalists do a valiant job trying to cover town meetings, etc., but it does not replace an actual news team. News sites are increasingly cluttered with commercial messages and it can be hard to know what is news and what is an ad. They should be able to survive without resorting to these things.” —Christian P., Bloomfield
“We are at a golden moment in time … a chance to foster a more informed citizenry and thus, a more vibrant and effective democracy. Please support Civic Info Bill A4933 and S3303.” —Mary N., Columbus
“I find local news invaluable to staying engaged in my community, but I have seen many local news sources struggle or shut down in recent years due to lack of funding. Providing a platform for meaningful local reporting is essential to keeping people involved in what’s going on within their town and county and giving a voice to marginalized members of the community.” —Ryan L., Collingswood
“People rely on locally produced news and information to engage with their neighbors, learn about volunteer opportunities, make decisions about voting, run for public office, get information about small businesses and support their children in local schools. The Civic Information Consortium would support projects that strengthen the kind of public-interest journalism and innovation in civic media that the people of New Jersey urgently need.” —Mark G., Washington
“I want to know what is happening in my local town and surrounding cities and towns. It is important to stay informed and to be involved in civic affairs.” —Virginia B., Ewing
“We need this information to vote correctly and know what is going on. It will help to check corruption.” —Ann R., Clifton
“An informed population is needed to make wise and rational decisions for the good and the future of our state, and our country.” —Anthony T., Lakewood
To help the Civic Info Bill move forward, pick up the phone by Nov. 30 and urge legislative leaders to hold a Higher Education Committee hearing.