Center for Cooperative Media articulates its core values, 6 strategic objectives for future work

Strategic planning caps more than a year of reflection, research

Stefanie Murray
Center for Cooperative Media
4 min readSep 15, 2020

The world was certainly quite different—much different—about 18 months ago when the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University began its first strategic planning process.

At the time, we were a busy operation with growing influence in a handful of areas. Our work, once confined to New Jersey, had grown to be national and even international in scope. Where were we going, our stakeholders wanted to know, and how were we going to get there?

I’m pleased today to share what I hope are answers to those questions and more.

Below you’ll find the Center’s mission, vision, values and strategic objectives for future work over the next few years. This reflects months of thought and planning, and is only the tip of the iceberg. For each objective, we’ve got early plans in place for execution, which we will revisit as a team at least quarterly to assess and evaluate.

I also want to thank our counselors throughout this effort, Sarah Lutman of 8 Bridges Workshop and Jessica Clark of Dot Connector Studio; without their guidance, input and leadership we would have been lost.

Mission, vision and values

As a program of the School of Communication within the broader scope of Montclair State University, the Center is situated within the University’s mission, vision and values. The University’s mission statement can be found here and its vision and values can be found here in its Project Soar 2025 strategic plan.

Therefore, it’s important to note the definition of the Center’s own vision and values should be seen through the narrower lens of the Center’s mission, which is tied to local news and information, and not outside the scope of the University’s overarching guidance. We found this exercise to be especially valuable to help us articulate our work to outsiders, especially funders, who seek to understand what the Center is working for while it sits within the broader context of a university setting.


The mission of the Center for Cooperative Media is to grow and strengthen local journalism and support an informed society in New Jersey and beyond.


The Center for Cooperative Media envisions a world where people work together to create the news and information needed to participate in society, tell stories that reflect true experiences, and live with dignity and purpose.


  • Access to information: People have universal critical information needs and we believe the work of providing for those critical information needs should be valued and promoted as a necessary public good.
  • Collaboration: We believe that by working together we can do better work than we can alone.
  • Proaction: We believe in taking steps as quickly as possible to respond to problems presented to us and test solutions.
  • Community and inclusivity: We believe it is critical to create a sense of community that is open and welcoming among the people we work with and for.
  • Equity: We believe that access to and distribution of power and resources should be determined using a lens of justice and fairness.
  • Joy: We believe that enjoying our work is essential to successful outcomes.

Strategic objectives

By early March, the Center had defined a core five strategic objectives for the upcoming 3–5 years, and we started to outline way we could execute upon them. The pandemic stopped the entire process in its tracks, however; nearly everything that was not related to COVID-19 response was put on the back burner.

Yet even mid-pandemic reflection has shown us that we were on the right path to begin with. Although COVID-19 delayed us finishing our strategic plan by several months, it only changed one facet of it, and that was the addition of one more strategic objective. All six are listed below.

  • Seize the moment: listen, create, and respond as pandemic conditions change. Accelerate services to CCM’s constituents as they face unprecedented challenges.
  • Enhance the Center’s efforts in equity, diversity, and inclusion and make this work an urgent and visible focus in New Jersey.
  • Improve and expand the Center’s connection with current local news and information partners and potential partners.
  • Grow the Center’s national influence and advocate widely for collaboration.
  • Broaden CCM’s revenue resources by aggressively exploring ways to expand the Center’s revenue base.
  • Regularly exercise the team’s strategy and forecasting muscles, and continuously evaluate program effectiveness against strategic objectives in order to focus on those with highest relevance and impact potential.

Next steps for the Center

Now that we’ve defined and shared our mission, vision, values and strategic objectives, the real work begins. We’re already executing projects and programs that align with our strategic objectives, but there is much more to come and we’ll share updates along the way. We’ll also be recruiting our first advisory board this fall and will announce that group as soon as we are able.

If you have any questions or ideas, (or want to partner or help fund us!) let us know email or Tweet @centercoopmedia. You can also click here to join our general email newsletter list, here to get our collaborative journalism newsletter, or here to get our daily New Jersey news roundup.

Stefanie Murray is director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Contact her 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 support an informed society in New Jersey and beyond. The Center is supported with general operational funding from Montclair State University, 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



Stefanie Murray
Center for Cooperative Media

Director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University.