TRENTON, N.J. — On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the state’s $46.4-billion budget, which includes a $1-million investment in the Civic Information Consortium, a groundbreaking program that supports local news and information initiatives and fosters more informed communities.
The consortium is the result of Free Press Action’s years-long efforts to engage local journalists, organizers, universities, advocates, residents and lawmakers to support public funding for journalism and civic information. Earlier this month, the consortium announced its inaugural round of grants, which were supported with $500,000 in FY2021 funding. The FY2022 budget that Gov. Murphy signed on Tuesday doubles the state’s commitment to this effort — another sign that New Jersey’s leadership recognizes the need to foster more informed and engaged communities amid a local news and misinformation crisis.
Free Press Action News Voices Director Mike Rispoli, who is also a member of the Civic Information Consortium board, made the following statement:
“We’re grateful to Governor Murphy and New Jersey lawmakers for their continued commitment to providing vital news and information to all communities in New Jersey. We’re especially grateful to outgoing Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, who has championed this initiative for years. With this increased support, the consortium will work to fund valuable local-news coverage and elevate the voices of people of color and others who have been systematically ignored or misrepresented by many media outlets. 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.
“Earlier this month, the consortium provided first-of-a-kind public funding to initiatives to help keep communities informed, spark civic engagement and counteract the dangerous and deadly spread of disinformation and bigotry. 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 showing other states how to address the harms inflicted when a community loses local-news sources.
“With the continued success of the Civic Information Consortium, we’re confident that other states will 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 empowered. It’s a vital step toward revitalizing and transforming the ways we think about future funding for local media.”