NJ taxpayers to fund local journalism
$5m contained in last-minute budget compromise
NEW JERSEY POLITICAL LEADERS ended a four-month budget impasse on Sunday night just hours before the government was scheduled to shut down. Most news stories focused on the big political compromise: Instead of the millionaire tax sought by Gov. Philip Murphy, the budget included a new multimillionaire tax — a 10.75 percent tax rate on anyone earning more than $5 million.
But buried within the legislation was another provision that is starting to attract attention around the country. The budget included $5 million in seed money for a fund to support local journalism in underserved communities.
The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium is expected to dole out the money and attract additional funding from private, charitable organizations. The consortium will have a 13-member board — two appointed by the governor, one by the Senate president, one by the Assembly speaker, and four appointed by the heads of Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, and Rutgers University. Those eight members will select the remaining five members.
Louis Greenwald, the Assembly’s majority leader, said New Jersey residents rely heavily on New York City and Philadelphia media outlets for their news. “Local news is the lifeblood of a community,” he said. “It adds local context to stories and keeps those in power accountable. Supporting it is undoubtedly in the public’s best interest.”
“This is really about identifying the needs of communities when it comes to news, and then investing in that need,” Rispoli said. “It might be civic technology; it might be civic literacy.”