Apply for Micro-Grants to Grow and Strengthen NJ News

The NJ News Commons at Montclair State University is offering micro-grants up to $3,500 and other resources to strengthen existing hyperlocal news sites and help launch new ones. The project, called “Grow and Strengthen,” is funded through a grant from the New Jersey Recovery Fund. Application deadline is Sept. 9. For more details and to download applications, click here.…

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And, finally, the best of the best: the Awbrey and O’Brien award winners

Please join us in congratulating all of the winners of our Excellence in Journalism contest for work published in 2012. The contest proves once again that tough, concise, honest, brave and passionate journalism is still happening on a daily basis in the Garden State.

All the winners will be honored at a reception Sunday, June 23 at the offices of Dow Jones, 4300 Route 1 North, South Brunswick, NJ. Our honored guest speaker will be Mark DiIonno, Star-Ledger columnist and a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his work in 2012.

Our top awards go to:

  • Laura Herzog of The Ridgewood News: the Stuart and Beverly Awbrey Award, which honors a weekly or local online publication that goes beyond mere reporting of local events, instead seeking to inspire their communities to better themselves. Her series, Doing Business in Ridgewood, dug into the town’s understaffed building department, which caused stores to wait months for permits; examined the town’s problematic sign ordinance; highlighted the overabundance of eateries in the downtown; and emphasized need for a vision to keep the downtown thriving. A contest judge called Ms. Herzog’s efforts “a textbook effort on what community newspapers do better than any other media.”

The Awbrey Award is named after the husband and wife team that ran the Cranford Chronicle for many years, exemplifying the bond between a local paper and its     community.

  • The Star-Ledger’s Christopher Baxter: the Tim O’Brien Award, daily newspaper category. The award honors the best work by a journalist that utilizes New Jersey’s Open Public Records Law. A judge called Baxter’s stories, “Behind the Badge, “a remarkable series of reports on the disturbing misdeeds of the New Jersey State Police.” The stories “not only revealed disturbing acts by state troopers that have eroded the public trust but also affected change.”
  • Joseph Malinconico, of the hyperlocal site, The Alternative Press of Paterson: the O’Brien Award, online category. Malinconico’s series about how the daughter of Rep. Donald Payne was promoted to a job that required her to drive between Paterson public schools, even though her license had been suspended for driving while intoxicated, caused her to lose the promotion as well as a pay increase. Malinconico was last year’s Awbrey honoree.

The O’Brien award is named for the late Tim O’Brien, dogged reporter for the New Jersey Law Journal who distinguished himself by his willingness to probe deeply into government documents to unearth hidden truths. NJSPJ along with the New Jersey Foundation for Open Government fought for many years to change  the state’s public records law, once one of the weakest in the country, into one of the strongest.

Publications honored for their Sandy coverage included The Record, first place for both the daily deadline reporting and page one design categories; NJBIZ and photographers Eric Sucar and Amy Rosen, first place for photojournalism feature; Pascack Valley Community Life, first place for weekly deadline reporting; The Non-Profit Times, first place for online state/regional coverage; and Bloomberg News, first place for online news reporting.…

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And the winners are . . .

For better or worse, the Digital Age is all about analytics, and we know from the tabulation of the clicks that lots of folks want to know about our contest. So — drum roll please! — here is the list of winners (all except radio and TV, and independent online publications). Radio and TV winners can be found here;  winners of the independent online publications category are here.  The contest is a great window into all the good work that’s being done in New Jersey at news outlets, large and small.  Congratulations to all who participated. Next on the agenda is a celebration. Stay tuned for news about our awards luncheon in June.…

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May 21 conference on NJ media innovation

Those keeping tabs on the media experiment also known as the New Jersey News Commons may be interested in this day-long journalism conference: “New Jersey: A Laboratory in Media Innovation’’ at Montclair State on May 21.

The event, which is free, takes place in University Hall, room 1040, from 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., and will end with a tour of the Center for Cooperative Media. Organizers plan to “unveil results of new research, share the past year’s highlights of collaboration and innovation among news organizations, and continue a conversation about the challenges and opportunities for New Jersey’s media landscape,” according to the invitation issued by New Jersey News Commons director Debbie Galant.

The conference is hosted by the four foundations underwriting the News Commons: the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Community Foundation of New Jersey, the Wyncote Foundation and the James L. Knight Foundation.

People who want to attend should RSVP to khofmann@grdodge.org. by Wednesday, May 15. …

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