Center for Cooperative Media shifts diversity scholarship program to focus on paying dues in 2021

More than 300 New Jersey journalists got memberships renewed for a year in NAHJ, PABJ, NAJA and NLGJA

Stefanie Murray
4 min readJun 14, 2021


For the last few years, thanks to the support of our funders, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University has provided money to help New Jersey journalists and students attend the conferences of organizations that promote diversity and equity in the media industry.

We’ve given out several thousand dollars for folks to attend annual events hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) and NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, among others.

But the pandemic obviously put a halt to in-person events. It also cut the amount of money people requested from us down to almost nothing, and we didn’t foresee that changing in 2021.

So, we decided to change our program—at least for now.

In a year that continued to be traumatizing for journalists of color and those from marginalized communities, we wanted to do something that was proactive and that didn’t require a lot of effort on the part of our colleagues. So we reached out to the organizations mentioned above and asked a simple question: Could we pay for a year of dues for all of their New Jersey members?

Understandably, this question was met with confusion. You want to do what? For who? Um, why?

One of the Center’s strategic priorities is to actively and publicly support efforts to diversify New Jersey’s media ecosystem and make it more equitable. We believe that supporting journalists of color in all ways that we can is a key part of that work.

So thanks to funding from Democracy Fund and additional money we pooled together from other gifts made to the Center, we were able to pay for memberships for more than 300 individual journalists in NAHJ, NAJA, NLGJA and the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. That far surpasses the number of people we’ve helped on a yearly basis previously. We are in talks with AAJA and the South Asian Journalists Association as well.

“This generous contribution from the Center for Cooperative Media will not only help expand our organization’s impact beyond Philadelphia, but across the entire region,” Ernest Owens, PABJ President, said in a statement announcing the program. “Our organization looks forward to welcoming more members from down the shore to the association that started it all.”

Especially exciting for PABJ was that the program not only helped folks renew their dues, but it also attracted 50 new members (which DOUBLED its previous number of New Jersey members!), which we were thrilled to hear.

For NAHJ, its active New Jersey membership jumped from 77 to 226 — nearly tripling its number of active members in the state.

“We appreciate the thoughtful and practical effort by the Center for Cooperative Media to strengthen our Region 2 community and New Jersey chapter. NAHJ continues to be a support system for Latino journalists across the country, and a resource for all individuals and organizations that believe in an equitable media landscape,” said NAHJ President Nora López.

The program paid for 19 memberships for New Jersey NLGJA members and three NAJA members.

Our intention is that this investment helps our journalism colleagues keep accessing the fantastic networking and programming put on by these organizations, and clearly signals our support for their work.

If you didn’t receive an award on our behalf to have your dues to one of the organizations mentioned above renewed, let us know; we’re going to continue to raise money so we can keep this program alive through 2021. Email us at and we’ll keep you updated.

And if you are a funder, please consider making a gift so we can keep doing this! A little goes a long way. Email me at

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 in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with 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

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