TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Patrick Diegnan that would establish a state university-based consortium to advance research in the field of media and technology was passed from the Senate Higher Education Committee today.

“The state’s traditional newspaper market has been upended by changes in technology,” said Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “We need to establish a university-based consortium that promotes innovation in the media and trains a new generation of journalists to work in a changing environment. A functioning, representative democracy is dependent on a vital free press. This program is key to ensuring we have that in New Jersey in years to come.”

“Traditional media has undergone a radical shift since the advent of the Internet,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “This bill will create a consortium of universities which will be incubators for innovation in the media. We need 21stjournalists who can thrive in this new evolving industry. These journalists will need to know every aspect of their industry, beyond just reporting. This program is important to not just the future of journalism in New Jersey, but to the health of our democracy in this great state.”

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The bill, S-2317, would establish the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium whose purpose would be to advance research and innovation in the field of media and technology. The bill would require the consortium to be established as a non-profit corporation. Its membership would consist of the following universities:

 

  • The College of New Jersey
  • Montclair State University
  • The New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Rowan University
  • Rutgers University

The board would consist of 13 members appointed by the governor, the Senate president, the Assembly Speaker, the president of the five member universities, and by a majority vote of the other appointed board members.

The consortium would be a collaborative effort among the universities and would be required to report annually to the governor and the Legislature on the activities of the consortium. The report would include a list of all grant applicants, the grant amounts approved, the amount of matching funds provided to the grant applicants and a status report on the activities of the approved grant applicant.

The goal of this bill is to create a statewide approach to facilitate and harness new and innovative approaches in media technologies at the state’s institutions of higher education through the creation of a vehicle to capture and capitalize on these efforts.

The bill was approved by a vote of 4-0 and advances to the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee for further consideration.