Editor's Note: Please check-out our E&P Reports podcast next Wednesday, Feb. 3 as E&P publisher Mike Blinder interviews the New Jersey Hills Media Group management team.
The Corporation for New Jersey Local Media (CNJLM), a nonprofit dedicated to building strong communities through journalism and civic engagement, today announced a landmark agreement with the New Jersey Hills Media Group to work together to convert the group’s 14 weekly newspapers in Morris, Somerset, Essex, and Hunterdon counties to non-profit ownership.
Upon completion of the transition, the New Jersey Hills Media Group, which is currently the largest independent weekly newspaper group in the state, will be the largest weekly newspaper under non-profit ownership in the nation, covering 52 municipalities. The transition, detailed in this week’s newspapers, will be supported by a $500,000 community fund-raising drive.
This innovative collaboration between CNJLM and the New Jersey Hills Media Group was established to forge new ways to preserve the legacy of community journalism and is intended to serve as a paradigm for owners of quality newspaper groups across the nation who are looking for sustainable, community-based models to secure the future of local news.
“Our mission is to strengthen communities by preserving and expanding local journalism, and shepherding this conversion is the first step in making that mission a reality,” said CNJLM Executive Director Amanda Richardson. “We are grateful for the chance to ensure that the New Jersey Hills Media Group remains a vital community resource that provides quality journalism, serves as a watchdog on local government, and keeps readers abreast of the news they need.”
“Non-profit ownership strengthens community journalism by supplementing traditional newspaper advertising and subscription revenue with foundation grants, events, tax-deductible contributions, and memberships to fund robust reporting that enhances civic engagement and builds stronger communities,” said Nic Platt, CNJLM Founding Chair.
Liz Parker and Steve Parker, co-owners of the New Jersey Hills Media Group, welcomed the opportunity to transition their papers to non-profit ownership under the Corporation for New Jersey Local Media.
“As we contemplated the future of our papers,” said Liz Parker, co-publisher and executive editor, “teaming up with a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the local news coverage we provide – in print, on the web, and on social media – was always our first choice.”
CNJLM was founded in 2020 by Platt, a Harding Township Republican Committee member, and Richardson, the Harding Township Democratic chair, a “team of rivals” who ran against each other for Township Committee in November 2019 in a race marked by its civility. Inspired by bipartisanship, the organization spent its first year building a foundation for respectful civic dialogue, informed by responsible local journalism, through a series of Community Engagement webinars (https://newsweneed.org/previous-events/) that covered topics of interest ranging from the future of local journalism to rail transit, the 2020 election, and the New Jersey state budget.
Guiding the organization’s development and shepherding the conversion process are Advisory Board members who include: Linda Stamato, Director Emerita of the Center for Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, Rutgers University; Fruqan Mouzon, Chair of the Cannabis Regulatory Practice Group at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, who served as CNJLM’s counsel in negotiating the agreement; N.J. Senate Republican Budget Officer Steve Oroho (R-Sussex/Morris/Warren); Dr. Lisa Bhimani, Morris County Democratic vice-chair; John Mooney, Founding CEO of New Jersey Spotlight; Stefanie Murray, director of the Center for Cooperative Media, Montclair State University; and Marc Pfeiffer, assistant director of Rutgers University’s Bloustein Local Government Services Center.
The seller was represented in the transaction by James McDonald of Grimes McGovern Associates.
CNJLM is a registered New Jersey nonprofit corporation operating under the aegis of the Community Foundation of New Jersey.
Corporation for New Jersey Local Media builds strong communities through journalism and civic engagement. The organization seeks to enhance civic engagement by promoting professional community journalism, fostering public discussion of critical issues, and expanding access to educational programs. Learn more at www.newsweneed.org.