Tennyson Donyéa (left) and Charles Curtis III (right)

Introducing the new South Jersey Community Reporters project leads

Tennyson Donyéa and Charles Curtis III will work directly with community reporting fellows in South Jersey

The New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) and the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University recently announced the launch of “South Jersey Community Reporters,” a program that will develop and conduct training and workshops for aspiring community reporters from across South Jersey as part of the Center’s South Jersey Information Equity Project (SJIEP).

The South Jersey Community Reporter initiative is generously supported by funding from “United We Stand: Connecting Through Culture,” a National Endowment for the Humanities initiative that supports humanities projects that combat hate by fostering cross-cultural understanding, empathy, and community resilience. This collaborative endeavor also seeks to familiarize and connect community reporters with New Jersey’s local news ecosystem while building storytelling and multimedia skills.

Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to the two talented, experienced local journalists selected from within the SJIEP network to work directly with the community reporters.

Welcome aboard, Tennyson and Charles!

The cohort will work alongside SJIEP media partner Tennyson Donyéa, founder of Black in Jersey, and recent fellow and Camden-based journalist Charles Curtis III.

As part of this program, the community reporters will produce collaboratively reported stories, which will be published by SJIEP’s local media partners.

Tennyson Donyéa: Journalist, storyteller, and aspiring filmmaker

Tennyson Donyéa, a seasoned journalist and storyteller with a fervor for filmmaking, has woven a noteworthy tapestry in the media realm. After graduating with a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from Temple University in 2016, he further honed his journalistic prowess through the Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators program at CUNY Newmark Graduate School of Journalism in 2022.

Over the span of seven years, Tennyson has reported across a myriad of platforms, including TV, radio, and both print and digital media. His dynamic journey has spanned from California to Maine. Yet, his pivotal role as a political reporter at WHYY News in Philadelphia distinctly highlights his dedication to insightful and impactful news coverage.

Recognizing the need for reshaping narratives about New Jersey’s Black neighborhoods, Tennyson founded “Black In Jersey” in 2021. This initiative strives to provide an authentic representation of Black communities and to illuminate significant Black issues.

Tennyson’s exemplary commitment to grassroots journalism earned him the New Jersey News Commons’ Partner of the Year award in 2023, acknowledging his profound contributions to strengthening New Jersey’s local news ecosystem. That same year, Tennyson accepted an invitation to join the inaugural Democracy in Action Fellowship at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Tennyson has embraced New Jersey as his home since 2019. He currently resides in Trenton, NJ, continuing his mission of journalistic excellence and community advocacy.

Charles Curtis, III: Acclaimed poet and independent journalist

Charles Curtis, III is an award-winning poet, songwriter, and freelance journalist from Camden, NJ. Charles received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Kean University and was initiated into Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. as an undergraduate.

His poetry has been recognized internationally with notable performances at events such as the 2018 Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica. Charles also placed first in the 2021 Camden’s Got Talent showcase and performed in the 2022 NJ State Theatre Poetry Night.

In 2018, Charles launched “Politics & Poetry,’’ an online social media platform that highlights new stories about Black experiences locally, nationally, and internationally. The site focuses on art, entertainment, politics, and pop culture. Politics & Poetry has worked to inform the community about upcoming local events and resources via podcasts, artist interviews, and weekly wrap-up videos.

Charles is also a two-time fellow of the Center’s South Jersey Information Equity Project in 2022 and 2023. As a fellow, Charles hosted local convenings to help identify and address information gaps in South Jersey. Charles produced stories that worked to improve the narrative of South Jersey, highlighting positive news stories to provide a more accurate and balanced perspective of the region. In 2023, Charles became a recipient of the NJ News Commons Excellence in Local News Award.

Currently, Charles is the founder and owner of Broken Minds LLC. The mission of Broken Minds is to “utilize art as a form of therapy by promoting an atmosphere of artistic expression for inner-city residents suffering from mental illness directly or indirectly.”

Adrienne Bauldock is the project coordinator for the South Jersey Information Equity Project. Contact her at bauldocka@montclair.edu.

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.