Thursday, July 12, 2018

State of New Jersey may subsidize local news coverage

New Jersey could become the first state to provide funding for local journalism, though it's not a done deal. "Last month, both houses of the New Jersey legislature passed the 'Civic Info Bill.' The bill sets up a nonprofit group that will be supported by five of the state's universities. A board of directors will approve grants to strengthen local news coverage," Brain Stelter reports for CNN. Gov. Phil Murphy signed a state budget Sunday night that allocates $5 million for the effort, but he hasn't signed the authorization bill.

The Free Press Action Fund, a liberal public interest group, has been lobbying for such a bill for more than two years, on the grounds that print newspapers are losing staffing and resources and digital start-ups aren't filling the void.

"In New Jersey, this is compounded by the fact that the state is located between two big cities, New York and Philadelphia, that are in other states. The practical effect: Less coverage of hyperlocal issues," Stelter reports. "So advocates and state lawmakers argued that public funds should support 'civic information' -- news coverage, yes, but also things like databases and media literacy initiatives."

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