Photo by Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

I can’t even count the number of times I heard one of the CBS News anchors decry today’s assault on the U.S. Capitol building as “unbelievable,” “shocking,” and “unimaginable.” As they and others around the world watched Trump supporters storm into the offices and chambers of the U.S. Congress, the question on everyone’s minds and lips seemed to be, “How could this happen?”

The answer is actually pretty simple: The police let them in.

At first, it wasn’t clear how or why a modest crowd of right-wing protestors-turned-insurrectionists managed to get by a Capitol Police force that knew for days…

Journalism at the national level has been under attack over the last four years, and the business model that once supported the industry has been crumbling for more than a decade.

On top of that, last year was particularly turbulent as a pandemic raged (and continues to rage) across the globe. Throw in a near-economic collapse, months of racial and political uprisings, the 2020 Census, and a divisive election into that mix and it’s easy to understand why many in the media are unsure of what the future holds — and that’s just at the national level.

Local media of…

Amid a pandemic, a racial reckoning and divisive election, here’s some of the best journalism we saw in New Jersey

The Center for Cooperative Media is thrilled to announce the winners of the fourth annual NJ News Commons Excellence in Local News Awards.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we won’t be holding a celebratory awards luncheon this year, but all of our winners will still receive a certificate and award money for work they did in 2020 in innovation, collaboration, investigative reporting, sustainability, and engagement. We also have awards for Outstanding Campus Media and Partner of the Year.

The award categories are based on key areas of focus for NJ News Commons members, a network of nearly 400 news…

The deadline to apply is March 31, 2021

At long last, the first-in-the-nation New Jersey Civic Information Consortium is accepting grant applications for its first round of funding. This step has been years in the making.

The Consortium is an independent non-profit organization created by the State of New Jersey in 2018, tasked with growing and improving access to civic information statewide and sparking innovative media projects in communities that lack access to news and information. Montclair State University is the host university for the Consortium, providing back-office service and support mostly through the Center for Cooperative Media.

Three years since it was created, the Consortium is finally…

You’ve done some amazing journalism this year. Help us make sure you’re recognized for it.


The last thing anyone wants to do right now is look back and reminisce about 2020. Still, the Center for Cooperative Media feels strongly that all of your hard work and dedication to journalism last year deserves to be recognized and applauded.

That’s why you should submit your best work for aa NJ News Commons Excellence in Local News award. These awards (this year is the 4th annual program) recognize original local journalism produced by NJ News Commons members in 2020.

The money will be used to support local NJ news providers covering the new coronavirus in their communities

Journalists at newsrooms of all sizes are being furloughed, laid off, or facing pay cuts while advertising revenue continues to plummet. Smaller news organizations, especially those with few personnel and no significant financial backing, are among those hurting the most.

As Poynter’s Kristen Hare puts it, “It’s getting hard to keep track of the bad news about the news right now.”

As this crisis continues to impact our communities and our partners, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University is launching new programs to help address some of these issues in New Jersey. …

New Jersey publishers will focus on local news revenue projects

Late last year, we announced a new round of micro-awards aimed at supporting projects and experiments focused on bringing in more money for local news publishers in New Jersey. The program is called Grow + Strengthen: Revenue, and it provides stipends of up to $5,000 each — plus business coaching and a free year of LION Publishers membership.

Grow + Strengthen is a program the Center has sponsored before, but it’s been a while; we announced our first round of participants back in 2013. We did it again in 2014, but that time we focused on supporting investigative reporting.


A featured imaged showing the 2020 Excellence in Local News Awards badge and logo.
A featured imaged showing the 2020 Excellence in Local News Awards badge and logo.

Winners to be honored at ceremony and luncheon in New Brunswick on March 5

The Center for Cooperative Media is thrilled to announce the winners of the third annual NJ News Commons Excellence in Local News Awards.

We will honor the seven winners during an awards ceremony and luncheon on March 5 at Harvest Moon Brewery in New Brunswick, where each will be presented with an award certificate and $100 prize for work they did in 2019 in the fields of local news innovation, collaboration, investigative reporting, campus reporting, sustainability, and engagement. We will also present the award for Partner of the Year.

The judges for this year’s contest were Kristine Villanueva of the…

Grants will exclusively fund revenue-related projects for local New Jersey publishers


In 2013, the Center for Cooperative Media launched the first round of its Grow + Strengthen program.

The goal was to give micro-grants to a handful of hyperlocal news startups in New Jersey to help ease some of the financial burdens associated with starting your own news outlet. We did it again the following year, this time focusing on local publishers looking to spend more time doing investigative reporting. Over the course of two years, we seeded and nurtured a total of 15 local news and information projects across the state.


You’ve done some amazing work this year. Help us make sure you’re recognized for it.


A lot has happened in the world of local journalism this year — and it doesn’t look like that’s about to change any time soon.

We still don’t really know what to do about the spread of misinformation, let alone the general lack of trust between newsrooms and the communities they serve. The fight to protect journalists and press freedom more broadly rages on both at home and abroad. …

Joe Amditis

Joe is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University and the host of the WTF Just Happened Today? podcast.

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