For Immediate Release
January 8, 2013
John Mooney,Founding Editor, 973-464-7392
NJ Spotlight wins additional grant funding, expands staff and plans for new tools
Trenton, NJ — NJ Spotlight (www.njspotlight.com) is poised for growth in the new year as the award-winning startup news site welcomes a fresh wave of grant funding from the Knight Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Fund for New Jersey, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. The grants are funding the addition of two new staffers — a healthcare writer and an audience engagement director — as well as a number of new initiatives planned for 2013.
“More than two years after starting this grand experiment, we’re thrilled that the foundation community and the public at large are finding value in our in-depth, policy-oriented journalism,” said founding editor John Mooney. “New staff and new initiatives will further our commitment to informing and engaging residents of the state on issues critical to their lives and welfare.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, dedicated to improving health and healthcare for Americans, granted NJ Spotlight a two-year, $260,000 grant that includes supporting in-depth coverage of health and healthcare issues in New Jersey.
Mining that beat for the last two months has been journalist Andrew Kitchenman, who joined the NJ Spotlight staff in November. Kitchenman has covered New Jersey business and state and local government for more than 10 years. Prior to arriving at NJ Spotlight, Kitchenman worked as a reporter at NJBIZ and The Times of Trenton, writing stories about health insurance, hospitals, and how federal healthcare laws affect New Jersey residents and businesses. At the Times, he cowrote a series focusing on the effects of toxic lead on Mercer County residents.
“Providing smart and detailed coverage of health and healthcare issues in New Jersey is right up our alley,” said Fred Mann, associate vice president of communications at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “RWJF is both the largest foundation in the country dealing exclusively in issues of health and healthcare, and the largest foundation in the state of New Jersey. We understand the value that an informed press brings to the public and to our issues. And we are proud to be able to help NJ Spotlight perform the great public service that they do.”
A $250,000 two-year grant from the Knight Foundation to the Community Foundation of New Jersey, matched by a $250,000 two-year grant from the William Penn Foundation, will fund multiple purposes, including increased community engagement and the development of new data tools and reporting that will deliver public information directly to the fingertips of readers in easy-to-understand formats.
With that mission in mind, NJ Spotlight hired Paula Saha as director of community engagement and social media in December. Charged with expanding and diversifying NJ Spotlight’s online audience through social media, community partnerships, and increased digital initiatives, Saha was most recently part of the public affairs team at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and spent nine years covering suburban New Jersey communities for the Star-Ledger.
“Knight Foundation is pleased to support NJ Spotlight’s continued success in providing important public policy reporting for the region through the Knight Community Information Challenge,” said Susan Patterson, program director for Knight Foundation. “This news project is possible because the Community Foundation of New Jersey recognizes that information is a basic community need.”
“NJ Spotlight has established itself as an essential voice on the state’s most pressing issues,” said Brent Thompson, director of communications at the William Penn Foundation. “But perhaps as importantly, John Mooney and his team are demonstrating how to sustain high-quality public interest journalism in an age of shrinking state capitol newsrooms.”
In addition, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, which supports traditional and innovative uses of media to educate the public around issues of importance to New Jersey, and The Fund for New Jersey, which supports work that improves public-policy decision-making on the most significant issues affecting the people of the state, have both pledged $50,000 grants to support coverage of New Jersey public policy.
“In two short years, NJ Spotlight has filled an important gap in the New Jersey media landscape, distinguishing itself as a trusted source of in-depth reporting on policy issues,” said Kiki Jamieson, president of The Fund for New Jersey. “The Fund is proud to support NJ Spotlight’s first-rate contributions to public engagement and policy deliberations.”
“The Dodge Foundation continues to be impressed by the high quality of NJ Spotlight’s coverage of important New Jersey issues. As we work to strengthen the news landscape here in New Jersey, NJ Spotlight is a shining example of leadership and collaboration with peers,” said Chris Daggett, president and CEO of Dodge.
“We’re excited we have been able to raise funds to support NJ Spotlight’s work,” said Hans Dekker, President of the Community Foundation of New Jersey. “With new healthcare laws taking effect, budget woes impending and the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy looming large, we look forward to NJ Spotlight’s expanded and continued scrutiny of issues vital to New Jerseyans.”
About NJ Spotlight: NJ Spotlight was launched in May 2010, supported by grants from the Community Foundation of New Jersey, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, William Penn Foundation, and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Its mission is to be a sustainable news and information service focused on critical policy issues in the state. In addition to its daily news coverage, NJ Spotlight hosts live and online events with key stakeholders on issues such as the state budget, solar power, charter schools, teacher tenure, and wind energy. Further information is available on its website at www.njspotlight.com.