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The Fate of Net Neutrality Hinges on the House

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  • On Monday, the New Jersey Senate passed the Civic Info Bill (S2317), legislation Free Press Action Fund spearheaded that would create a public fund to invest millions of dollars in innovative projects designed to strengthen local news coverage statewide.

    The New Jersey Assembly passed its companion bill (A3628) last Thursday. Once the Senate and Assembly versions of the bill are reconciled this week, the legislation will head to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.

    The bill would create the Civic Information Consortium, a collaborative effort led by The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University.

    The consortium would fund projects to improve the quantity and quality of news and information in New Jersey communities, which would benefit longstanding and startup news outlets alike while also launching statewide media-literacy and civic-engagement programs. It would also provide grants to support the information needs of New Jersey’s low-income communities and communities of color. It would be the first of its kind in the nation.

    Free Press Action Fund News Voices Director Mike Rispoli made the following statement:

    “Strengthening local media in New Jersey is one of the best ways we can ensure that communities stay informed and engaged. Despite the good work of many talented journalists across the state, years of runaway media consolidation, layoffs and newsroom closings have left many communities with little to no local news coverage. That’s not just bad for the journalism industry — it’s harmful to our communities and our democracy.

    “The Civic Info Bill couldn’t come at a more urgent time. It would invest millions of dollars in projects designed to strengthen local journalism, foster community engagement and amplify the voices of people of color and other marginalized communities. We’re excited to see lawmakers support this effort, and we urge Governor Murphy to sign this bill into law and help make New Jersey a national model for how to create a 21st-century public-interest media system, one that’s rooted in communities, based on collaboration, and focused on lifting up unheard voices.”

  • On Thursday, the New Jersey Legislature approved $5 million for the Civic Information Consortium, an innovative public fund that would invest in local journalism, community and municipal information, and civic engagement across New Jersey.

    The FY 2019 budget bill that funds the consortium passed the legislature on Thursday and heads to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.

    The $5-million appropriation for the consortium is tied to legislation that Free Press Action Fund spearheaded. The Civic Info Bill (S2317/A3628) would create a public fund led by state higher-education institutions to invest millions of dollars in innovative projects designed to strengthen local news coverage statewide.

    The Civic Info Bill passed the Assembly on Thursday and is set for a full Senate vote as early as next Monday. If it passes, it will also head to Gov. Murphy.

    If passed, the Civic Info Bill would help improve the quantity and quality of news and information in New Jersey communities, which would benefit longstanding and startup news outlets alike while also launching statewide media-literacy and civic-engagement programs. It would also provide grants to support the information needs of New Jersey’s low-income communities and communities of color.

    Free Press Action Fund News Voices Director Mike Rispoli made the following statement:

    “We’re so close to making history for New Jersey communities that have suffered the effects of years of runaway media consolidation. The Civic Info Bill would ensure that communities around the state are informed and engaged and can participate more fully in local decisions affecting schools, elections and infrastructure.

    “Residents around the state have spoken out in support of the Civic Info Bill. They’ve signed petitions, called their lawmakers, attended community forums and participated in lobby days at the statehouse. They’re invested because they’re craving access to better news and information about their communities.

    “We’re excited to see lawmakers invest millions of dollars in this innovative approach, and we urge Governor Murphy to sign this bill into law and help make New Jersey a national model for how to create a 21st-century public-interest media system, one that’s rooted in communities, based on collaboration, and focused on lifting up unheard voices.”

  • This week, committees in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly passed the Civic Info Bill (S2317/A3628), which would revive local journalism, community and municipal information, and civic engagement across New Jersey. The legislation will now move to the floors of both chambers for a full vote.

    The bill, which would create a public fund to invest millions of dollars in innovative projects designed to strengthen local coverage across New Jersey, passed the Senate Higher Education Committee by a unanimous vote on Monday. On Tuesday, it passed the State Assembly Budget Committee. The measure moves next to the floor of both chambers, where votes could occur by the end of this week.

    Lawmakers introduced the Civic Info Bill last year after New Jersey received $332 million from the auction of the state’s two main public-TV stations, WNJN and WNJT. The legislature missed an opportunity to pass the bill in 2017, but thanks to an outpouring of public support, lawmakers revived the Civic Info Bill this year.

    If passed, the law would help improve the quantity and quality of news and information in New Jersey communities, which would benefit longstanding and startup news outlets alike while also launching statewide media-literacy and civic-engagement programs. It would also provide grants to support the information needs of New Jersey’s low-income communities and communities of color.

    Free Press Action Fund News Voices Director Mike Rispoli made the following statement:

    “Thousands of New Jersey residents have spoken out about the need to pass the Civic Info Bill and ensure that communities are informed and engaged. Residents across the state have seen local news coverage dry up or disappear, leaving too many people in the dark. The committee votes earlier this week have brought New Jersey one step closer to becoming a national model for how to create a 21st-century public-interest media system, one that’s rooted in communities, based on collaboration, and focused on lifting up unheard voices.”