NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — What would you do if you had the opportunity to reshape local news coverage in the Garden State?
News Voices: New Jersey, a project of the media-advocacy group Free Press, wants to hear your answers. The organization plans to hold a forum on the future of local news from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at Rutgers University, 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick.
The event comes as the state prepares to receive $332 million from the auction of two public-media licenses. The sale effectively means the bandwidth used to run two state-owned TV stations—one in Montclair and another in Trenton—will instead satisfy greater demand for streaming video and the like, according to Free Press.
Mike Rispoli, who heads News Voices: New Jersey, is pushing state officials to use a portion of that money to create the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium. The consortium, a league of public colleges, including Rutgers, would then bankroll efforts that strengthen community journalism, media research and civic engagement, among other things.
“If the state did put $100 million into this fund, what type of projects should they put money into to support news and information?” Rispoli said. “It would be good to get people’s perspectives.”
What the auction money will be used for is uncertain at this time.
The advocacy group has held similar discussions across the state this spring. Most have been “very small, intimate” events that drew anywhere from 10 to 30 people, Rispoli said.
A Rutgers journalism figure is likely to speak during the powwow, he added.
He said he also hopes to rally support at the New Brunswick event for a bill that would earmark money for the initiative. Since lawmakers in Trenton will ultimately decide the bill’s fate, calls and letters from constituents are critical, he said.
That proposal would need to be approved by the end of June, before New Jersey adopts its budget, Rispoli said.
News Voices: New Jersey asks interested people to RSVP beforehand. To do that and for more information, click here.