How the Center for Cooperative Media is supporting its partners during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Stefanie Murray and Joe Amditis

Stefanie Murray
Center for Cooperative Media
7 min readMar 18, 2020


The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University was born in 2012, right before the chaos and confusion of Hurricane Sandy.

At a time when traditional communication channels and information networks were diminished or breaking down, the Center served as a connector and curator for local news providers across the Garden State. Now, as the state, the country, and the world continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19, the Center is again working to make sure its partners have all the tools and resources they need to keep their communities informed during these uncertain and tumultuous times.

Here’s a look at what we’re offering partners in our NJ News Commons and NJ College News Commons networks.

Daily COVID-19 newsletter to launch

Beginning this week, the Center will begin publishing a daily COVID-19 newsletter specifically curated for NJ News Commons and NJ College News Commons news partners.

The newsletter will includes links to statewide stories that are available for republication, and a list of newly announced reporting resources, grant opportunities, training sessions and more.

There is a ton of information flying around right now, and while it’s great there are a lot of resources being made available to local journalists, it’s a lot of noise to cut through. We’re going to pay attention and collect all the relevant info so you don’t have to.

Sign up here to get the newsletter, and click here to join the NJ News Commons. (Click here if you’re a freelancer.)

Click this button to subscribe to our COVID-19 partner newsletter.

New content-sharing partnerships with NJ Spotlight and Nordot

NJ Spotlight, the state’s largest news nonprofit, has often made its stories available for republication. Now, it’s making all of its COVID-19 statewide reporting available for local news orgs to republish.

This should help some smaller sites tremendously, letting them focus entirely on local coverage of the pandemic. The Center will share links to these stories with the republication guidelines every day in the new COVID-19 newsletter for NJ News Commons partners mentioned above.

NJTV, NJ Spotlight’s sister newsroom, also provides embed codes for all of its livestreams, videos and shows. We’ll include links to relevant videos in the newsletter.

Additionally, through his new newsletter Coronaviral, veteran investigative journalism Stephen Stirling is making free graphics available for reuse. We’ll include links to those graphics in daily in the newsletter as well.

Last, the Center has been working for the last few months with Nordot to relaunch the NJ Story Exchange. Using a plugin, Nordot allows news outlets to digitally republish reporting from larger newsrooms like and the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Nordot platform also allows news organizations to make their own reporting “republishable” and keep additional ad revenue that is generated when someone else picks up the content. The Center will have a standing feature noting what’s available in Nordot in the new COVID-19 newsletter mentioned above.

We hosted a webinar with Nordot COO Aya Uryu to introduce our NJ partners to the platform.

Center to provide Spanish translation of selected coronavirus articles

Providing critical information about the new coronavirus only in English misses a big part of New Jersey’s population. That’s why the Center is partnering with Reporte Hispano, the state’s largest Spanish-language news organization, provide daily Spanish translation of 1–2 articles produced by NJ Spotlight.

The Center’s ethnic media coordinator, Anthony Advincula, is leading this effort. The Spanish translation will be provided via the daily newsletter referenced above.

Weekly conference calls hosted for NJ News Commons and NJ College News Commons

The Center will start hosting a weekly conference call for NJ News Commons members in an effort to facilitate coordination among the state’s local news providers and to provide a safe place to vent.

Joe Amditis, the associate director for the Center, will host the calls on Fridays for the foreseeable future. Information for the calls will also be provided as a standing item in the daily newsletter.

Last week, the Center also contacted all of its campus media partners that are part of the NJ College News Commons and scheduled an impromptu listening session to hear their concerns and plans for tackling the situation upon their (virtual) return from spring break. Those calls will continue, too.

Training webinars to be increased

There’s a lot of training we’ll all need over the coming months, and so the Center is planning to ramp up the number of webinars and virtual training courses it provides on topics ranging from video conference tools to coronavirus data analysis.

The Center’s first such session is an AMA with Coronaviral newsletter founder Stephen Stirling — click here to sign up.

Next up, Joe Amditis will do some basic video conference and remote work training on March 23 — click here to sign up.

We’ll announce future trainings on social media and other topics in our forthcoming COVID-19 newsletter.

New section added in daily statewide newsletter

The Center’s daily NJ News Commons newsletter, The Daily Roundup, is the state’s only non-partisan roundup of top news from dozens of news providers around New Jersey. This newsletter is targeted toward news consumers in New Jersey, not news organizations themselves. The goal is to give residents a quick rundown of what’s being reported and to amplify the excellent journalism produced by the Center’s partners.

The Center’s Daily Roundup newsletter writer, Jeanette Beebe, has added an entire daily section rounding up coronavirus coverage from across the state, with a special focus on hyperlocal news. The Center plans to continue this new section for the foreseeable future.

Click this button to subscribe to our COVID-19 partner newsletter.

New section added in The Local Connection newsletter

The Center publishes a weekly newsletter on Mondays called The Local Connection. That newsletter takes 3–4 national stories each week and breaks down how local journalists can localize them, including local angles to consider and loads of local questions to ask.

The Center’s Local Connection newsletter writer, Carla Baranauckas, has added an entire weekly section on national coronavirus coverage. The Center plans to also continue this new section for the foreseeable future.

Click this button to subscribe to our COVID-19 partner newsletter.

New survey distributed to all NJ News Commons partners

One of the first things the Center did when it became clear that the new coronavirus wasn’t going away was to reach out to its partners and ask them how it could help. After all, it’s much harder to help someone if you don’t know what they need.

The Center created a brief partner needs survey and sent it out to our network of more than 285 New Jersey media partners, along with dozens of freelancers and independent reporters across the state. The survey asks about what support each organization or individual needs in regard to coronavirus reporting, how they prefer to communicate, which tools they use, what kind of training or guidance they might need, what their schedules look like, and if they would be interested in working collaboratively to cover COVID-19.

The Center will continue monitoring that survey, so if you are part of a New Jersey news organization and haven’t filled it out yet, click here to do so.

How else can we help? Let us know

The Center will continue to adjust what it provides to its partners based on feedback.

We need to know how we can help you; let us know by filling out the survey or just by dropping us an email:

Even if you just need someone to listen while you figure everything out, we’re here.

Stefanie Murray is director of the Center for Cooperative Media. 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, 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



Stefanie Murray
Center for Cooperative Media

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