Will Murphy set aside advertising money for ethnic media in New Jersey?
The governor spoke to NJ ethnic and community media during a NJ News Commons exclusive briefing hosted this week
By Cassandra Etienne and Oni Advincula
It was a small elephant in the room and an open question in the chat box when New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy joined two dozen ethnic and community media reporters for a press briefing on Wednesday.
New York City and California have set aside advertising dollars to specifically spend with ethnic and community media. When would New Jersey do the same?
“I wouldn’t necessarily commit, but it’s something I would absolutely consider. We do some of this already,” said Murphy. “I would be very much open to doing that. It’s a smart way to get to people. And frankly, in a more targeted, closer to the ground way than the big, other media players, whether they be print radio, or television or digital.”
Such advertising funds could be a huge boon to an estimated 150 local and ethnic media outlets that serve immigrants and communities of color throughout the state.
Murphy’s answer came in response to Aleksandra Slabiz of Nowy Dziennik, a Polish-language daily, who asked if New Jersey will follow the example of local and state governments in New York City and California to dedicate substantial advertising and marketing funds to advertising in ethnic and community media. “We reach the audiences, which due to language and cultural barriers, are hard to reach for your administration. Will you commit to doing the same thing in New Jersey?,” she had asked.
Slabiz’s question was one of five pitched to Murphy during a wide-ranging, 20-minute briefing hosted by the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. The event provided an opportunity for diverse media outlets across the state to gain more equitable access to government administration, which is especially significant in New Jersey, one of the most ethnically diverse states in the region, where nearly one in four residents identifies as an immigrant.
Murphy also talked about plans and budget priorities to address systemic inequalities that impact New Jersey’s immigrants and communities of color, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. And in a notable takeaway, the governor discussed the possibility of advertising dollars for ethnic media outlets that serve these communities.
“Our administration understands that New Jersey’s diversity is our greatest strength, said Murphy in his opening remarks. “Recently, our administration established a Wealth Disparity Task Force. We enacted a legislative package to bring greater diversity of the ranks of the law enforcement community. And we just created the Office of Diversity, Equity Inclusion, and Belonging, led by Janae Johnson… to dismantle inequity within state government based on race and ethnicity, among other things, to expand opportunities for communities of color and other underserved New Jerseyans.”
Following these remarks, Anthony Advincula, project coordinator for ethnic media initiative, the Center for Cooperative Media, introduced five COVID-19 reporting fellows: Clyde Hughes, editor of Front Runner New Jersey, Kleibeel Marcano, editor of Reporte Hispano, April Xe, a reporter for the Chinese-language newspaper Sing Tao Daily, Phillip Han editor for the New Jersey/ New York news bureau of Miju News (Korean Business Journal), and Aleksandra Slabisz, the Polish language weekly, Nowy Dziennik.
The fellows asked the governor about a range of topics, including immigration reform and access to public benefits — particularly among the state’s undocumented immigrants, solutions to longstanding racial and ethnic disparities among Black, Latinx, Asian, and other immigrant communities, persistent housing discrimination and segregation, and plans to mitigate poverty and poor mental health outcomes exacerbated by the pandemic, overwhelmingly among people of color.
“I’m so glad that Gov. Murphy was able to speak with us and share essential information, especially about housing and mental health challenges that immigrant communities face,” said April Xu, reporter for Sing Tao Daily, the largest Chinese-language publication in the state. “These issues are really important for the Chinese community–and all other underserved ethnic groups–that my newspaper serves.”
The briefing ended on a discussion about equitable access to government information and support ethnic and community outlets in New Jersey.
“This is the first time that we had an opportunity to have an exclusive discussion with Gov. Murphy, and it was valuable for us to bring the issue of advertisements for ethnic media,” said Mohsin Zaheer, editor of Urdu News, a weekly that serves the Pakistani community. “I was thrilled to hear when he said that he is open to considering it and would be discussing it with concerned officials. Ethnic media in New Jersey is a leading source to reach immigrants and people of color communities. We look forward to some positive development from the governor’s office.”
“Ethnic communities constitute a big portion of New Jersey’s population,” said Slabisz of Nowy Dziennik. “Their members are hardworking residents who, regardless of immigration status, often pay taxes and contribute to the overall development of the state. So, they deserve to be informed like everyone else.” Slabisz added: “The opportunity for reporters from ethnic press to meet with Governor [Murphy] and be able to ask him questions that are of importance to our communities is a big step toward a tighter cooperation between our communities and the state administration.”
Cassandra Etienne is the assistant director for membership and programming at the Center for Cooperative Media. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Oni Advincula is the ethnic media program coordinator at the Center for Cooperative Media. Contact him at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a primarily 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 CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.