Center for Cooperative Media announces local news grants for equipment purchases, freelance coverage of COVID-19 in New Jersey

The money will be used to support local NJ news providers covering the new coronavirus in their communities

Joe Amditis
Apr 17, 2020 · 4 min read

Journalists at newsrooms of all sizes are being furloughed, laid off, or facing pay cuts while advertising revenue continues to plummet. Smaller news organizations, especially those with few personnel and no significant financial backing, are among those hurting the most.

As Poynter’s Kristen Hare puts it, “It’s getting hard to keep track of the bad news about the news right now.”

As this crisis continues to impact our communities and our partners, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University is launching new programs to help address some of these issues in New Jersey. We’ve created a freelancer fund to support local COVID-19 coverage and a reporting equipment stipend to help local reporters pay for the tools and tech they need to work during a statewide lockdown.

Additionally, we have decided to continue to offer our diversity conference scholarship program for 2020, thanks to feedback from previous award winners.

Stipend, fund + award details

Details about the different opportunities are below.

The freelancer fund will provide micro-grants of $1,000 each to 15 freelancers across New Jersey covering COVID-19 in their communities.

  • Freelancers who receive a $1,000 reporting grant will be expected to produce 2–3 stories per grant, depending on the medium used and length/depth of work, and will work with the Center as needed to get those stories published or broadcast by local New Jersey news organizations.
  • We’re looking for writers, audio producers, photographers, map-makers, videographers, data visualization reporters or other media makers to apply for these grants.
  • Applicants of color and those serving underrepresented communities will be prioritized.
  • Part of the inspiration for the structure of this fund comes from National Geographic’s excellent reporting fund, which seeks to support “reporting that covers social, emotional, economic, and equity issues,” and will prioritize “those at high risk or hit especially hard by the virus, indigenous communities, immigrant or refugee communities, underserved, urban, rural, elderly populations, and children.”
  • The application is here and awards will be given out on a rolling basis until the fund is exhausted. The funding for these grants comes from the Center for Cooperative Media and Democracy Fund.

The reporting equipment stipend will give out 20 stipends of $250 each to New Jersey journalists. These stipends can be used to buy anything that will help awardees adjust to covering the news during this pandemic.

  • That includes everything from a new webcam and microphone to a new backpack or carrying case to a software or service subscription.
  • The funding for these stipends comes from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

The diversity, equity and inclusion travel award program we launched in 2018 will continue for 2020.

Joe Amditis is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media. You can reach me on Twitter at @jsamditis or via email at

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit

Center for Cooperative Media

An initiative of the School of Communication at Montclair…

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