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After Buffalo, Media and Tech Can’t Look Away Any Longer

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TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has unveiled his $49-billion state-spending proposal for FY2023, including a $2-million investment in the Civic Information Consortium, a groundbreaking program that supports local news-and-information initiatives and fosters more informed communities.

The consortium, which funded its inaugural round of local projects in 2021, is the result of years-long efforts by Free Press Action and New Jersey allies to engage local journalists, organizers, universities, advocates, residents and lawmakers to support public funding for journalism and civic information.

The $2 million Gov. Murphy set aside doubles funding for this effort — further proof of New Jersey’s commitment to cultivating informed and engaged communities amid a growing disinformation crisis. Lawmakers in other states are looking at the Civic Information Consortium as a model for how public policies can foster local journalism that centers community needs.

Free Press Action Senior Director of Journalism Policy Mike Rispoli, who is also a member of the Civic Information Consortium board, said:

“We’re grateful for Governor Murphy’s ongoing commitment to the Civic Info Consortium, which is bringing vital news and information to underserved communities in New Jersey. The consortium has established New Jersey as a national leader in efforts to address the local-news crisis and create a more equitable media system. New Jersey state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize the essential role local news and information play in engaging everyone in civic life, and we look forward to continuing to work with them.

“The consortium is a historic program that was made possible by the thousands of New Jerseyans who organized to reimagine how local news could be more equitable, accessible and sustainable. Years after that campaign, we’re now seeing its impact: projects receiving consortium funding last year include those like Cosecha’s Radio Popular and Stories of Atlantic City that elevate the voices of people of color and others who have been systematically ignored or misrepresented by many media outlets. Other efforts seek to combat the scourge of disinformation around public-health efforts and elections.

“By doubling its commitment to the consortium, New Jersey is continuing to recognize the importance of public policy in addressing the local-news crisis — and we’re confident that other states will continue to look to the New Jersey model when searching for new ways to support independent local news. More robust funding of noncommercial media is a lifeline for many communities seeking to become more engaged and informed. It’s a vital step toward revitalizing and transforming local media.”

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