Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

NJ News Commons helps residents vote, track results in wake of Hurricane Sandy

Nov. 7, 2012, 10:57 a.m., Posted by Lisa Williams

sandy

Knight currently supports the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to help develop a collaborative of news organizations and journalists in New Jersey. Below, Lisa Williams writes about how the project is getting an early test of its new model. The following is cross-posted from the Knight Digital Media Center's blog.

Hurricane Sandy created havoc in many seaside communities in New Jersey, and also caused damage with downed trees, powerlines and flooding in inland communities.   

The New Jersey News Commons, a new project to pump up the amount of civic news and information for New Jersey residents, got an early test of their collaborative model with Sandy. The project, which was funded by the Knight Community Information Challenge and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, is a collaborative of several different newsrooms responding to a singular problem for the Jersey news ecosystem: the dominance of the New York and Philadelphia news markets, which often squeezes out news by and for New Jersey residents.  New Jersey's public television affiliate, NJN, closed up shop and went off the air in 2011, leaving a big hole in public media in the Garden State.  A new public television network, NJTV, was launched in July of 2011 -- but under the operation of WNET, New York's public television operation. 

The collaborative includes a mix of traditional and online newsrooms -- including NJ SpotlightWHYY NewsworksNew Jersey Public RadioWBGOPatchBaristanetMyVeronaNJElizabeth Inside Out andHoboken Mile Square View.

The demand for Jersey-specific news has been high -- in its first week alone, NJNewsCommons.org netted 200,000 page views.  

The collaborative is making heavy use of new technology, including using ScribbleLive for liveblogging storm news, answering questions, and pumping out links, Repost.us to create a live newswire of items from all of the collaborative's participating news organizations, and this week, turned on Crowdmap to enable residents to text in reports of voting problems to a map.

NJ News Commons is putting ScribbleLive to work again today, pulling in tweets, links, stories and photos from dozens of different sources throughout Election Day.

Notable hyperlocal pioneer Debbie Galant, who was tapped to run the collaborative, expects collaborative members and students at Montclair State University, where the collaborative is housed, to be at work until late into the night, posting news and manning the #NJVote voter information hotline.  

Here's Galant hosting the regular virtual "Learning Lunch" series she hosts, bringing in experts on the topic of audience engagement for the election: