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NJ Spotlight’s Top Coverage of 2016

Ever wonder what our readers and members were paying attention to in the past year? Here’s a look at the Top 10 stories and subjects

top 10

Heavy traffic is a holiday tradition — along with gridlock and tension headaches — something to be avoided if at all possible. But here at NJ Spotlight, we look forward to traffic year-round — the heavier, the better. As usual, our readers didn’t let us down.

1. Election Coverage

NJ Spotlight’s 2016 election guide was one of the top stories of the year, and our real-time results map on election night always gets a lot of attention — on our site and on sites run by our local and statewide content partners, who also use the information.

We also saw significant traffic on John Reitmeyer’s story on Ballot Question #2, which addressed what would happen to revenues from the recently hiked gas-tax funds.

2. Water Quality

NJ Spotlight’s coverage of water quality attracted big audiences, particularly a pair of stories about chemicals found in state water supplies — PFOA (perfluorooctanic acid) and Chromium 6.

3. Lakewood

A collaboration with WNYC Public Radio led to a piece on Lakewood, where phenomenal growth has resulted in a boomtown but also strained its outdated infrastructure and led to severe financial deficits in the schools.

4. Lead Poisoning

Lead in the water was a big national story, and New Jersey had its own scare when it came to light that 30 schools in Newark were grappling with the issue. But a map published in March showed that Newark was not the only place in New Jersey with water that is unsafe to drink due to high levels of the heavy metal.

5. Student Loans

An investigation by ProPublica exposed the unforgiving rules and aggressive collections of a New Jersey student loan program, and readers took major interest in our coverage of the legislative hearing on the issue.

6. American Dream Megamall

Our collaboration this month with WNYC News and Bloomberg Businessweek on the American Dream megamall in the Meadowlands dug deep into the troubled project, a multicolored behemoth off the Turnpike that could end up being the most expensive building ever built in the Garden State.

7. Pensions: The $100K Club

An NJ Spotlight analysis found that the ranks of retired public officials who collect more than $100,000 a year from New Jersey pensions have more than doubled in the past five years.

8. PARCC

A big story in 2015, PARCC testing continued to capture attention this year, as the state went public with the results of the first year of online evaluations.

9. President-Elect Trump

At the end of the week of a historic presidential election, NJ Spotlight looked forward to how President-elect Donald Trump might affect New Jersey’s policies and programs.

10. Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center

A series of articles investigating Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center began with a story about AmeriMama, a company based in the medical center that advertised online to Russian citizens, encouraging pregnant women to come to the Secaucus facility to give birth. Doing so makes the baby automatically eligible for U.S. citizenship and connects the hospital to a growing and relatively unknown international phenomenon known as “birth tourism.”

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