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  • TRENTON — On Tuesday, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald announced plans to introduce a new version of the “Civic Info Bill” in the 2018 session.

    The legislation would establish and fund the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, an initiative uniting several of New Jersey’s leading higher-education institutions to invest in projects that strengthen news coverage, community information, civic technology and civic engagement across the state.

    The consortium — which would seek out, evaluate and invest in proposals from residents working in collaboration with the media industry, technology sector, community organizations and academic partners — would include The College of New Jersey, Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University.

    “The future of New Jersey is deeply intertwined with how our residents get news and information about the communities and state they live in,” Sen. Weinberg and Assemblyman Greenwald said in a joint statement. “People across New Jersey this past year have made their voices heard: Something must be done to strengthen news at the local level, especially in low-income communities and communities of color, and we need to be investing in innovative business models and technologies aimed at keeping people informed.”

    Earlier this year, Free Press Action Fund launched the campaign to pass the 2017 version of the Civic Info Bill. Since then, thousands of New Jersey residents have taken action to support the legislation by attending public forums, signing petitions, calling state lawmakers, lobbying their statehouse representatives and writing letters to the editor of their local news outlets.

    “It’s because of this support that we are proud to say we are committed to making this bill a reality, and will introduce similar legislation once the legislature reconvenes in 2018,” Weinberg and Greenwald said. “We look forward to working with passionate Garden State residents in 2018 to improve the quantity and quality of civic information in New Jersey communities.”

    “We will redouble efforts to pass the Civic Info Bill in 2018,” said Mike Rispoli, the director of Free Press Action Fund’s News Voices: New Jersey project. “Countless people across the state have told us that the disappearance of local news and information has made them feel detached from their communities. While there is good journalism happening right now in New Jersey, we need to find ways to strengthen it while also investing in how our communities are informed. This bill would pioneer a local-news and civic-technology model for our state that lifts up voices that are not always heard from in the media.”

    The 2017 version of the Civic Info Bill called on the state to allocate $100 million in proceeds from the federal broadcast-incentive auction, in which the sale of the licenses of New Jersey public-television stations WNJN and WNJT brought in more than $330 million in revenues. Details for the 2018 version of the Civic Info Bill, including the funding mechanism and amount, will be finalized when the bill is reintroduced next year.

    Free Press Action Fund’s News Voices: New Jersey project works to build stronger connections between residents and reporters and ensure that local journalism serves community needs. News Voices has convened meetings and helped build news-and-information networks in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Camden, Glassboro, Montclair, Morristown, Newark and New Brunswick.

  • CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — Members of the media are encouraged to both participate in and report on the News Voices: North Carolina event on Sat., Aug. 26, at 1 p.m. in Charlotte.

    “The News Charlotte Needs: A Public Forum on the Role of Journalism in Tackling Inequity” will bring together local residents, media makers, activists, artists and others. During the event, community members will sit down with reporters to discuss the stories they want the media to cover.

    Charlotte’s leaders have been engaging in a conversation about the city’s lack of economic opportunity ever since a 2013 Harvard University study ranked Mecklenburg County last out of 50 major U.S. metros for economic mobility. Earlier this year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force released a report recommending changes across the city and county’s institutions. Meanwhile, residents of Charlotte are grappling with the many problems this report identified: racial segregation, lack of social capital, and struggles to access educational opportunities, health care and affordable housing.

    “We believe local media have a very important role to play in moving Charlotte from talk to action on these longstanding issues of inequity,” said Fiona Morgan, director of the News Voices: North Carolina project. “Journalism has the power to hold leaders and institutions accountable for their actions, or lack of action.”

    News Voices forums use structured, small-group conversations to give everyone who attends an opportunity to speak. “One of the most important things journalists can do is expand the network of people they talk to so the public hears not just from official leaders but also from people living with these issues every day,” Morgan said. “That’s why we design these forums so that reporters sit and listen to the people they serve.”

    Event details:

    WHAT: The News Charlotte Needs: A Public Forum on the Role of Journalism in Tackling Inequity
    WHEN: Sat., Aug. 26, 1–4 p.m. (doors open at 12:30; light refreshments will be served)
    WHERE: Grimes Lounge, Student Union, Johnson C. Smith University, 100 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte
    RSVP: Alicia Bell at abell@freepress.net or Fiona Morgan at fmorgan@freepress.net

    These discussion forums are one way that Free Press’ News Voices: North Carolina project invites the public to take part in a conversation about the future of journalism. The initiative also helps newsrooms across the state deepen local engagement, find new sources and broaden their audiences. News Voices is committed to centering the experiences of people of color, who the news media have historically underserved or misrepresented.

    “Journalism is the first draft of history,” said Alicia Bell, a Charlotte native and organizer for News Voices: North Carolina. “If our communities want to ensure that our stories are recorded and passed down for generations to come, building relationships and working with journalists is one way to do that.”

    The Charlotte event is the first in a series of News Voices forums across North Carolina. It comes after months of planning, outreach and interviews with members of the media and civic organizations in the state. The project launched in April with receptions in Charlotte and Durham that featured lively discussions about the ways local media can strengthen communities. In July, News Voices hosted small gatherings in Charlotte to gather insight into the city’s news-and-information ecosystem.

    News Voices: North Carolina is an initiative focused on deepening engagement between communities and local newsrooms to make local journalism more responsive and relevant to residents. The project builds off a similar initiative in New Jersey, where Free Press is leading efforts to create sustainable support for public interest-driven news and information that amplifies the voices of communities of color. 

    News Voices is a project of Free Press, a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan organization that is working to create a world where people have the information and opportunities they need to tell their own stories, hold leaders accountable, and participate in our democracy. The News Voices project is made possible in part with grants from the Democracy Fund, Democracy Fund Voice, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Community Foundation of New Jersey.

  • TRENTON — On Monday, advocates rallied in Trenton in support of legislation that would use millions in proceeds from the recent spectrum auction to help fix New Jersey’s local news crisis.

    Led by Free Press Action Fund, people representing more than a dozen local and national advocacy organizations urged state legislators to pass A4933/S3303 to form the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, a first-of-its-kind collaboration among leading research universities, digital innovators, community groups and everyday people to fund innovation in local news, community information, civic technology and civic engagement.

    Advocates delivered a letter to Gov. Chris Christie and leaders of the State Assembly and Senate that called on them to prioritize passing the legislation before the budget for the upcoming fiscal year is finalized on June 30.

    “The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium represents our state’s opportunity to demonstrate a transformative new model, utilizing a portion of the $332 million in revenue recently earned from the FCC’s auction of two of the state’s old public-media stations,” reads the letter. “These stations were created to serve the public interest; it’s only right that the funds from their sale be used to rebuild local news and information.”

    The letter (available here) was signed by more than 60 organizations, including representatives of the state’s leading Hispanic civic and media organizations.

    Signers include Action 21 Immigrants Rights Advocacy Group, Action Together New Jersey, Alliance for Community Media, Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, Anti-Poverty Network of NJ, Citizens Campaign,  Colombian American Congress, Color Of Change, Dominican American Leadership Council, Dominican Times News, Ecuadorian-American Chamber of Commerce, El Americano News, El Coqui-Puerto Rican/Latino News, El Nacional News, Free Press Action Fund, Guatemalan Merchant Association of New Jersey, Hispanic American Commerce Association of Hudson County, Hispanic American Political Action Committee, Hispanic Women Entrepreneurs and Networking Association of Essex, Hudson, Passaic and Union Counties, International Association of Hispanic Journalists & Entertainment, LAP Latino Alliance for Progress, Latin American Democratic Association, Latino Chamber of Commerce of Essex County, League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Media Mobilizing Project, New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Labor, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, Peruvian American Coalition of New Jersey, Negocios Hispanos USA, Newark Hispanic Merchant Association, and the Newark Hispanic Pastors Association, among others.

    Advocates also met with legislators as they delivered petitions signed by more than 1,700 New Jersey residents to the offices of Senate President Stephen Sweeney, State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo and Assembly Budget Chairman Gary Schaer.

    “The hundreds of millions received from the recent sale of old public-media stations represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give New Jerseyans the news and information they need to participate fully in our democracy,” said Mike Rispoli, Free Press Action Fund’s journalism campaign director and the director of the News Voices: New Jersey project, which has organized public support for the Civic Information Consortium. “Thousands of newsroom jobs have disappeared and dozens of news outlets have shut down throughout New Jersey over the last decade. By passing this legislation, we can take a significant leap toward restoring local news coverage, elevating the voices of the state’s most marginalized residents, increasing civic participation, and making local politicians more responsive to the needs of their constituents.”

    “New Jersey has its own vibrant and diverse culture, economy, environment, political system and more … all of which deserve the robust coverage that only news coverage focused at the local level can provide,” Lauren of Plainsboro, New Jersey, wrote in one petition comment. ”I stand in support of local news coverage, and urge you to do the same by supporting A4933/S3303.”

    The legislation, which the majority leaders of the State Assembly and Senate introduced on June 1, would break new ground in how public funds can be used to deliver essential news and information to the public. It would create a partnership with Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University and establish a governing structure for the consortium to provide funding for grants to organizations engaged in fulfilling the news-and-information needs of communities statewide.

    Over the past two years, Free Press Action Fund’s News Voices: New Jersey project has worked to build stronger connections between residents and reporters. News Voices has convened meetings and helped build networks in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Camden, Glassboro, Hackensack, Montclair, Morristown, Newark, New Brunswick and Tuckerton.

  • TRENTON — On Thursday, the majority leaders of the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate introduced legislation to establish the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, an initiative joining New Jersey’s leading universities in support of the news-and-information needs of communities statewide.

    Assembly Bill A4933 and Senate Bill S3303, introduced by State Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D–Camden) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D–Bergen), would allocate $100 million in proceeds from the federal broadcast-incentive auction, in which the sale of the licenses of New Jersey public-television stations WNJN and WNJT brought in more than $330 million in revenues to the state. The funding for the Civic Information Consortium would be allocated in $20-million annual disbursements over a five-year period.

    The consortium would provide grants to support news-and-information projects and programs to benefit civic life and meet the information needs of underserved New Jersey communities. The consortium would be a partnership with Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University. The legislation establishes a governing structure for the consortium while providing initial funding for grants to organizations engaged in this work.

    In late 2016, Free Press Action Fund launched a campaign via its News Voices: New Jersey project to urge lawmakers to set aside proceeds from the Federal Communications Commission auction of public-TV station licenses to give residents the news and information they need. In March, Free Press Action Fund and participating universities proposed the formation of the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium to support projects that strengthen public-interest journalism, advance research in the media field, develop and deploy civic technology, and promote civic engagement.

    “This legislation is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address the local news crisis and make New Jersey a model for the rest of the nation,” said Mike Rispoli, the director of the News Voices: New Jersey project.

    “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,” added Rispoli, who testified on the consortium before both New Jersey chambers earlier this year. “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.”

    “New Jersey continues to see its media landscape erode as the sector shrinks,” said Dan Gurksis, dean of Montclair State University College of the Arts. “A strong local media ecosystem is important to foster a healthy democracy. Timely, accurate and insightful information is necessary for all New Jersey residents to participate effectively in civic activities. Now is a critical time to invest in rebuilding our news-and-information ecosystem for the benefit of residents in the Garden State.”

    “At a time when most newspapers and TV stations keep cutting staff and reducing local news coverage, this bill is a pioneering effort by lawmakers to meet the information needs of New Jersey’s underserved local towns and counties through partnerships between those communities and the state’s public universities,” said Juan González, professor of professional practice at the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, and co-host of Democracy Now!

    According to the legislation, the consortium would report annually to the New Jersey governor and legislature and regularly solicit public input from local communities. To be eligible for a grant, proposals would need to include a collaboration between at least one university faculty member or graduate student and at least one local community organization, media organization or representative of the technology sector. This would ensure that consortium funds are used in communities and outside of a university setting.

    Over the past two years, Free Press Action Fund’s News Voices: New Jersey project has worked to build stronger connections between residents and reporters and ensure that local journalism serves community needs. News Voices has convened meetings and helped build networks in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Camden, Glassboro, Montclair, Morristown, Newark and New Brunswick.

  • WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission announced that payouts from its broadcast airwaves incentive auction, which raised $19.8 billion in total, would include $10.1 billion for 175 television stations that agreed to relinquish some or all of their channels.

    The FCC, which concluded the auction in February 2017, bought back some of the airwaves TV stations use and sold them to companies including AT&T, Comcast, DISH and T-Mobile that provide broadband and other communications services.

    Today the agency released the list of stations that successfully participated in the auction as well as information on the revenue each individual station will receive for selling off its spectrum rights: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-17-314A2.pdf.

    Of the 175 television stations that sold their licenses, at least 36 are noncommercial outlets. This includes New Jersey public-television stations WNJN and WNJT, which together brought in more than $330 million in auction revenues, which are two of the largest individual payouts of any noncommercial stations. Now both stations plan to go off the air. All told, noncommercial television stations will receive more than $2.4 billion from the auction.

    Earlier this year, Free Press Action Fund unveiled its News Voices spectrum campaign, which is urging New Jersey lawmakers to use the state’s auction revenues to give communities the news and information they need.

    In March, Free Press Action Fund proposed the formation of the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, which would invest revenue from the sale of New Jersey’s public broadcasting stations in community news-and-information projects. Funds could support projects that strengthen public-interest journalism, advance research and innovation in the media field, develop and deploy civic technology, and promote civic engagement.

    In the months ahead Free Press Action Fund will expand this campaign beyond New Jersey to communities around the country where local stations also participated in the spectrum auction.

    Mike Rispoli, Free Press Action Fund journalism campaign director and director of the News Voices: New Jersey project, made the following statement:

    “This auction marks a shift in the ways that public-broadcasting spectrum will be used, but that doesn’t mean the beneficiaries of this sale should abandon their obligation to serve their communities.

    “When local stations go off the air, news coverage disappears. That means people are less informed, civic participation drops and political corruption increases. Spectrum revenues must be used to support those who 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.

    “Some ideas we’ve heard from journalists and community members on how to use these public proceeds include support for locally focused digital news startups; apps and tools to help people sift through public data and expedite FOIA requests; robust community-engagement projects designed to lift up voices long ignored by newsrooms, in communities of color, immigrant communities, and other underserved areas; and media-literacy programs to identify and combat the spread of fake news and disinformation.

    “These publicly owned airwaves came with the obligation to serve the people in the selling stations’ local broadcast areas. It’s only right that money from the sale of the state’s 20th-century media outlets be used to create a new, forward-thinking media landscape for this century that focuses on local communities and is attuned to residents’ needs.”

  • TRENTON — Free Press Action Fund on Wednesday called on the New Jersey legislature to use money from the auction of the state’s public-TV stations to create a New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, a joint initiative with four of the state’s leading universities to invest in community-information needs.

    The proposal for the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium was unveiled by Mike Rispoli, the director of Free Press’ News Voices: New Jersey project, as he testified before New Jersey’s State Assembly Budget Committee.

    The consortium would issue grants to benefit the state’s civic life and meet the evolving information needs of New Jersey’s underserved communities. The project would support Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University in partnering with media outlets, technology companies and community groups.

    In his testimony, Rispoli asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the state legislature to allocate a portion of the estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue the state will receive from the Federal Communications Commission’s broadcast-incentive auction to support the news and information needs of communities across the state. The FCC auctioned off the state’s public-TV licenses as part of an effort to free up spectrum for wireless phone services. Christie confirmed this week that the money from the sale of New Jersey’s public-media licenses will make up part of an anticipated $325 million in state-asset sales included in the recently released state budget.

    “This is an opportunity that would make New Jersey a model for the rest of the nation,” Rispoli said in his testimony. “The Civic Information Consortium would invest revenue from the sale into supporting projects that strengthen public-interest journalism, advance research and innovation in the media field, develop and deploy civic technology throughout New Jersey’s communities, and promote civic engagement.”

    Rispoli’s full written testimony is available here: https://www.newsvoices.org/sites/default/files/resources/mike_rispoli_budget_testimony.pdf

    With a one-time investment of $100 million from the proceeds of the spectrum sale, the consortium over the course of 10 years could pay out up to $13 million a year to projects aimed at better informing New Jersey residents. By enlisting the brightest minds of the state’s universities, the Civic Information Consortium would allow New Jersey to lead the way nationally in creating a forward-thinking media landscape attuned to residents’ needs.

    “When news coverage disappears, people are less informed, civic participation drops and political corruption increases,” Rispoli testified. “People rely on locally produced news and information to engage with their neighbors, to learn about volunteer opportunities, to make decisions about voting, to run for public office, to get information about small businesses and to support our children in local schools.

    More information about the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium is available here: https://www.newsvoices.org/sites/default/files/resources/proposal_for_the_new_jersey_civic_information_consortium.pdf

    Over the past two years Free Press Action Fund’s News Voices: New Jersey project has worked to build stronger connections between residents and reporters and ensure that local journalism serves community needs. To date News Voices has convened meetings and helped build networks in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Camden, Morristown, Newark and New Brunswick.

  • WASHINGTON — Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund today launched a campaign to set aside proceeds from the auction of public TV station licenses to strengthen local journalism and community-information projects.

    According to new Free Press research (PDF), at least 54 public television stations around the country are taking part of the ongoing FCC broadcast incentive auction. Spectrum held by public TV stations alone is expected to bring in as much as $6 billion in the auction, with state governments, local school boards, university trustees and other station owners each likely raking in tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars for taking their stations off the air or moving down the dial to free up bandwidth to meet the growing demand mobile data.

    “This auction of the public airwaves gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reverse the crisis in local news and reimagine how local communities can get the information they need,” said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund. “Instead of standing by as vital public outlets disappear, we should seize on this moment to reinvest in innovative community media projects and serious accountability journalism. If we act now, this could be the biggest boost for public-minded media since the creation of the public broadcasting system.”

    The initial phase of the campaign will focus on New Jersey and urge lawmakers there to devote a portion of the proceeds from auctioning state-owned public TV licenses to support innovative journalism and community-driven projects across the state.

    Free Press and the Free Press Action Fund will be pushing to create a $250 million permanent public fund to support local information needs for decades to come. Ideas for use of proceeds include support for community-focused digital news sites, blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, public data access apps and other civic engagement tools. The FCC estimates that the New Jersey licenses, currently leased to the New York-based public broadcaster WNET, are worth as much as $2.3 billion.

    In a New York Times Op-Ed published today, Chris Daggett of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which is a key supporter of this campaign, announced the project. “Nowhere is there a better opportunity to take advantage of the auction than in New Jersey,” he wrote. “The governor and State Legislature should create a permanent fund to support a new model for public-interest media, financed by a significant portion of any auction revenue.”

    New Jersey is not the only place that could benefit from the auction. The 54 public TV stations that Free Press found participating in the auction are concentrated in 18 states and the District of Columbia. These include:

    • Three Los Angeles-area public TV stations — KVCR-TV, KOCE-TV and KLCS-TV — that together could be worth more than $1.5 billion, based on the FCC’s maximum opening-bid prices.
    • WYCC-TV on the South Side of Chicago, owned by local community colleges, which could be worth as much as $473 million.
    • WHUT-TV, licensed to Howard University in Washington, D.C., the country’s only Black-owned public broadcasting station — which could be worth as much as $460 million.

    These and other stations across the country filed a non-binding application to participate in the auction, but beyond that, the status of this spectrum sell-off — including the size of each of the winning bids — won’t be known until the auction has closed, which is expected in early 2017.

    This new campaign will build on Free Press’ successful News Voices: New Jersey project, which brings together newsrooms and residents across the state to advocate for better local media and foster community-centered journalism.

    “There is a crisis going on in local news, and if this crisis deepens our communities will really be in trouble,” said Mike Rispoli, director of News Voices: New Jersey. “The original purpose of these airwaves was to serve the public interest, and policymakers have a responsibility to make sure that the proceeds of this sale continue to do just that. We can reinvent local journalism in ways that help our neighborhoods and cities, amplify previously overlooked voices, meet the information needs of communities, and tell important stories that matter.”

  • MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY Members of the media are encouraged to both participate in and report on the News Voices: New Jersey event on Wed., June 1, at 6 p.m. in Morristown. This public forum will bring together local residents, journalists, media makers, activists and others who care about strengthening local media. The event, “Telling the Future of Morristown,” will connect reporters with residents and highlight the stories community members want the media to cover.

    Morristown is rich in history, spirit and diversity. However, there are significant challenges and changes happening in the community. Many residents are concerned that ongoing and planned development will significantly change the makeup of the town, and those who are already on the margins are worried that they will be left behind or pushed out of the community. Some of the issues likely to be discussed at the event include redevelopment projects, the lack of affordable housing, inter-community relationships and the need to protect vulnerable populations.

    “Every member of the Morristown community has a stake in its future. As the town undergoes changes, journalists can play an important role in making sure that all voices are heard and that the public has the information it needs to make educated decisions,” said Mike Rispoli, director of the News Voices: New Jersey project. “We’re holding this public forum to bring residents and local media together to discuss pressing issues. Together they’ll brainstorm story ideas and, most importantly, collaborate on ways to give every resident a voice in Morristown’s future.”

    Event details:

    WHAT: Telling the Future of Morristown: A public forum on how journalism can help communities grow together

    WHEN: Wed., June 1, 6–8:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30; light refreshments will be served)

    WHERE: Neighborhood House, 12 Flagler St., Morristown

    RSVP: Michele Setteducato at michele.setteducato@gmail.com or Christina DiPasquale at christina@balestramedia.com

    These discussion forums are one way that Free Press’ News Voices: New Jersey project is helping newsrooms across the state deepen local engagement, find new sources and broaden their audiences. These events also help community members call on reporters to cover the issues they care about most.

    The Morristown forum is the fourth in a series of News Voices events. The first, held in New Brunswick last November, engaged more than 120 attendees in a brainstorming session about underreported local issues. The second, held in Atlantic City last December, featured a rich discussion about the ways in which local journalism can help revitalize the city.  And the News Voices gathering held in Asbury Park in March brought together residents from opposite sides of the community to explore ways in which journalism can help unite the city.

    News Voices: New Jersey is a state-based initiative deepening engagement between New Jersey communities and local newsrooms to make local journalism more responsive and relevant to residents. It is a project of Free Press, the nonprofit organization that works nationwide to defend press and Internet freedom.

  • ASBURY PARK — News Voices: New Jersey is bringing together local residents, journalists, media makers, activists and others in Asbury Park for a community discussion about the media on March 23 at 6 p.m. The event, “Asbury Park: The Whole Story,” will allow journalists to hear firsthand from residents about what life’s really like in the historic and diverse city.

    The forum is the third News Voices has presented. The first, held in New Brunswick on Nov. 11, 2015, engaged more than 120 attendees in a brainstorming session about underreported local issues and the role journalism plays in our communities. The second, held in Atlantic City on Dec. 8, 2015, featured a rich discussion about the ways in which local journalism can help revitalize the city.

    Members of the media are invited and encouraged to both participate in and report on the Asbury Park gathering.

    These discussion forums are one way News Voices: New Jersey is helping newsrooms across the state deepen local engagement, find new sources and broaden their audiences. These events also help community members call on reporters to cover the issues they care about most.
     
    Event details:
    What: Asbury Park: The Whole Story. A public forum on how journalism can help unite communities
    When: Wed., March 23, from 6–8:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30)
    Where: Asbury Park High School, 1003 Sunset Ave., Asbury Park
    Press Contacts: Timothy Karr at tkarr@freepress.net; Michele Setteducato at michele.setteducato@gmail.com

    “An important question on the minds of many people is whether Asbury Park’s recent revival threatens to leave some behind or can actually benefit the entire community,” said Mike Rispoli, the press freedom campaign director for Free Press and director of the New Jersey project. “This is where newsrooms can come in and partner with residents — to listen to a variety of perspectives, sort through complicated information, and ask tough questions as powerful individuals make important decisions about the city.”

    The Asbury Park forum is part of a series of News Voices: New Jersey events that will be held through the remainder of this year.

    News Voices: New Jersey is a statewide initiative deepening engagement between New Jersey communities and local newsrooms to make local journalism more responsive and relevant to residents. It is a project of Free Press, the nonprofit organization that works nationwide to defend press and Internet freedom.

  • ATLANTIC CITY — News Voices: New Jersey is bringing together local residents, journalists, media makers, activists and others in Atlantic City for a community discussion about the media on Dec. 8. The event, “My Atlantic City,” will allow journalists to hear firsthand from residents about what life is really like in the city.

    The forum is the second News Voices has presented. The first, held in New Brunswick on Nov. 11, engaged more than 120 attendees in a brainstorming session about underreported local issues and the role journalism plays in our communities.

    Members of the media are invited and encouraged to both participate in and report on the Atlantic City gathering.

    These discussion forums are one way News Voices: New Jersey is helping newsrooms across the state deepen local engagement, find new sources and broaden their audiences. These events also help community members call on reporters to cover the issues they care about most.  

    Event details:
    What: My Atlantic City: What’s Your AC Story?
    When: Tues., Dec. 8, from 6–8:30 p.m. (light refreshments will be served)
    Where: Noyes Arts Garage, Stockton University, 2200 Fairmount Ave., Atlantic City
    Press RSVP: Contact Timothy Karr at tkarr@freepress.net.

    “A lot has been said about Atlantic City, much of it by outsiders, but we want community members to tell their own stories about what’s really happening in their lives. By strengthening connections between newsrooms and communities, we can amplify the voices of Atlantic City residents while supporting local journalists,” said Mike Rispoli, the press freedom campaign director for Free Press and director of the New Jersey project. “We believe the future of quality local journalism lies in these sorts of collaborations.”  

    The Atlantic City event is part of a series of News Voices: New Jersey meetings to be held through the remainder of this year and next. More information about the initiative is available at NewsVoices.org.

    News Voices: New Jersey is a project of Free Press, the nonprofit organization that works nationwide to defend press and Internet freedom.