How media literacy and community storytelling are shaping the future of news in South Jersey
Apply to become a South Jersey Community Reporter
My name is Charles Curtis, III, and I am a lifelong resident of Camden. As both a poet and songwriter, I find that storytelling resonates deeply with my identity.
My background in poetry, coupled with a strong sense of community, allows me to eloquently capture the dreams, struggles, and sometimes even the repulsion felt in a city striving for resurgence.
During my bachelor's studies in political science, I gained an acute understanding of the pivotal role community plays in policymaking.
Now, as a journalist, my aim is to spark conversation and offer insights into the human condition. I use my storytelling expertise to foster community engagement and help shape positive narratives.
Through the South Jersey Information Equity Project (SJIEP), I’ve been able to do exactly that.
SJIEP’s mission is to tackle media inequity in South Jersey by improving the quality and quantity of news produced by and for communities of color.
As a two-time SJIEP fellow, I have honed my writing abilities, enabling me to craft accurate and informative news stories. I have connected with and learned from esteemed Black media professionals and had my articles featured in various publications.
This work is meaningful to me because I believe in the power of journalism to alter perceptions of my community, focusing on its strengths. I have published articles on the enduring partnership between the police department and the city, detailing a weekly program that provides hundreds of children with resources, entertainment, complimentary haircuts, and more.
I have also reported on critical developments in Camden, such as an ordinance promoting transparency in business hiring practices. Local businesses and community groups' activism was instrumental in its enactment.
In this role, I will assist community reporters in developing their professional skills through workshops and support them in news gathering for projects that our media partners will publish. This initiative is a step towards enhancing community reporting in South Jersey.
Community journalism empowers and equips residents with the knowledge to inform, motivate, and engage with their community. As part of SJCR, we will focus on media literacy, sourcing reliable data, and multimedia storytelling techniques.
We will also examine the effects of hate speech and violence in our communities and discuss how the media can bridge information gaps and lack of coverage by accurately presenting stories that shed light on these issues.
The value of local voices is immeasurable. Insights from those familiar with their community's cultural norms and the lesser-known spaces, partnerships, services, and businesses are vital to balanced and precise local reporting.
Will you join us in this endeavor?
If you want to make a difference, help shape community narratives in South Jersey, or have a passion for storytelling and are looking for professional development in media — apply to become a South Jersey Community reporter!
Charles Curtis, III is an award-winning poet, songwriter, and freelance journalist from Camden, NJ. He was an SJIEP reporting fellow in 2021 and 2022 and currently serves as an associate producer for the South Jersey Community Reporters initiative. Charles received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Kean University and was initiated into Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. as an undergraduate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the NJ Council for the Humanities: The New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) explores, cultivates, and champions the public humanities in order to strengthen New Jersey’s diverse community. Since 1972, NJCH has partnered with statewide and community organizations to bring meaningful public humanities programming to the local level. We do this in 3 ways: by awarding grants and sponsorships, by providing programs ourselves, and by convening individuals and organizations that care about cultural and civic life in the Garden State. Visit njhumanities.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 operational and project funding from Montclair State University, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, NJ Civic Information Consortium, Rita Allen Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation and the Independence Public Media Foundation. Visit centerforcooperativemedia.org.