The new site was then under the rubric, “Where Issues Matter.” There were three other words in our founder’s heads: “Will This Work”?
In the years since that May 2010 launch, we hope that NJ Spotlight has answered that question in the affirmative and has proved to be a vital read for those who care about the workings of state government and how it affects all communities.
Our success was hardly a foregone conclusion: The original idea came from a few former Star-Ledger “beat” reporters who just wanted to keep writing, and who had a vision — and business model — of what the future of Statehouse news coverage could be.
In fact, when we first sketched out our ideas back in early 2009, the working name was NJ SPOT, for “State Paper of Tomorrow.”
We were lucky enough to connect with the Community Foundation of New Jersey, which had its own dreams for reviving civic-minded journalism in the face of dwindling newsrooms and shrinking coverage.
Our parent organization to this day, the Morristown-based foundation seeded the site with a $10,000 grant. With the help of a second grant from the Knight Foundation, NJ Spotlight was off and publishing.
Since then, we have published as many as 10 stories and interactive tools on more than 1,200 days, won dozens of state and national awards, and hopefully made New Jersey a better and more accountable place.
The site has also secured more than 20 foundation grants, built a donor base of nearly 200 individuals, and hosted more than 25 sponsored roundtables and webinars.
As we celebrate our fifth anniversary, we ask you to celebrate with us.
In the next two months, we will be holding an online fundraising drive to help us continue and to thrive, culminating in a June 26 celebration at Duke Farms in Somerset. We hope you can join us, or at least consider a gift to help us grow our work for another five years and beyond.
To join our celebration, visit our registration page.
And if you can’t make our party, we hope you will consider making a fifth-anniversary donation.