NJ Recovery Fund Update: Inform & Engage Programming

April 22, 2014

We believe that reliable and accessible news and information plays an important role in the health and well-being of New Jersey’s communities. NJRF supported eleven projects that inform and engage the public on issues the state faces as it recovers from Superstorm Sandy. Some of the highlights from projects in this focus area follow.

WNYC/New Jersey Spotlight (NJS) were funded to support a 12-month collaborative project combining in-depth accountability journalism with community engagement to chronicle and support NJ’s recovery. With funds from the grant, an experienced reporter, Scott Gurian, was hired and is currently providing some of the best in-depth reporting on the recovery process, particularly the environmental and policy issues. WNYC has broadcast most of his stories to a significant regional audience.

WNYC/NJS are also collaborating with WHYY and its Sandy reporter, Tracey Samuelson, to share coverage and expertise. Scott’s and Tracey’s stories are appearing on NJ Spotlight, WNYC/NJPR and WHYY.

All of Scott Gurian’s coverage can be viewed here.

Other Inform and Engage grants include:

  • Monmouth University Polling Institute’s project to track displaced people and collect information and opinions of the recovery from those impacted by the storm. (See some press coverage of their work here.)
  • In July, August and October of 2013, WHYY/NewsWorks and the Penn Project for Civic Engagement (PPCE) held a series of five forums where attendees were asked to consider three distinct approaches for handling future storms: Rebuild and Prepare, Rethink and Adapt, and Restore and Retreat. WHYY worked hand-in-hand with other Recovery Fund grantees including The Citizens Campaign, Creative New Jersey, and Sustainable Jersey, and has followed up those forums with extensive news coverage on their NewsWorks website.
  • NJ.com launched a “Sandy Recovery Scorecard” which tracks recovery progress by municipality with data such as FEMA aid, construction and demolition permits, and loans by the Small Business Administration. NJ.com continues to add data and will do some additional data visualization work. NJ.com, which has the largest online news platform in New Jersey, also helped highlight and share Sandy-related coverage by other New Jersey news organizations (notably NJ Spotlight and Scott Gurian’s reporting), bringing greater public attention to these important stories.
  • NJTV produced a tri-state, multi-platform, interactive town hall addressing post-Sandy recovery community issues. “Superstorm Sandy: A Live Town Hall” aired on Thursday, May 16th on NJTV, THIRTEEN, WLIW21 on Long Island and their respective websites, in collaboration with other regional media outlets, including WNYC and WHYY. NJTV continues to produce and air ongoing hurricane recovery-related stories.
  • Creative NJ has been working closely with many Sandy impacted communities to help design convening opportunities for citizens to discuss solutions for a more resilient rebuilding effort.