Josh Stearns Profile Picture

By JOSH STEARNS

In 1950 William Faulkner wrote “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past,” in his novel Requium for a Nun. However, the quote gained renewed attention in 2008 when then-candidate Obama gave a major speech on race in America. Obama was tapping into the archives of American culture to add context to the news of the day and connect that moment to the long and troubled history of race in America.

The Internet has made this idea of the past living alongside – and interwoven with – the present more true now than ever. Today, even relatively new newsrooms have vast and quickly growing archives of work to tap into and build upon. These archives hold huge potential to add context to current events, fuel community engagement and even serve as a new revenue stream. In fact, the New York Times innovation report said that taking advantage of archived content was one of the big missed opportunities for the Times.

On September 18, Debbie Galant, Joe Amditis and I did a training at the NJ News Commons on how to tap into news archives for “fun and profit.” Below are our notes and presentations from the training, with links to additional tools and readings.

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Podcast Art NJ News Commons

Conductor JoshWe’re joined in the studio by Josh Crandall, founder and CEO of Clever Commute, an 8-year-old online service for suburban commuters in the New York Metro area. Josh started with the realization that people carrying mobile phones could inform each other when there are problems with their trains and buses.

Crandall started with an email service that allowed commuters to give each other tips, but he’s grown more sophisticated over the years. Now he’s using a multitude of data services and his own algorithms to advise people ahead of time whether they’ll have trouble getting to work or getting home.

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Josh Stearns Profile Picture

By JOSH STEARNS

Welcome to the Local Fix. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news, starting with one good idea… 

One Good Idea: Be Optimistic. The Washington Post has a new weekly newsletter, “The Optimist,” that features “part feel-good, part success-against-all-odds” stories. The topic aside, what stood out for me is how many different newsletters the Post has developed around various themes. Each of themes emphasizes meeting the specific needs of their readers.

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5K Run

By JOE AMDITIS

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

Community fundraisers are a staple of local reporting. But here’s an interesting twist: Several participants in the Downtown West Orange 5K run filed complaints this week regarding the politicization of what was supposed to be a charitable event to raise money to combat ovarian cancer, according to Cynthia Cumming of TAP into West Orange. Participants claimed that several political candidates, including mayoral candidate Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., were campaigning “during, before, and after the race.”

NA Rudy of TAP into North Plainfield/Green Brook reported on a developing controversy surrounding allegations of racial taunting before a high school football game between Summit and North Plainfield. The incident is currently under investigation by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJIAA).

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NJ News Commons Featured Image Template

The Story Exchange

The NJ Story Exchange is an initiative to facilitate sharing within the New Jersey news ecosystem. This free-content network was originally built using tools from a company called Repost.us, which ceased operations in July 2014.

That being said, fear not! We are rebuilding the Story Exchange using a platform created by iCopyright, which allows news organizations to offer their content for embedding on other sites for free (with ads) or for payment (without ads). iCopyright also helps publishers brand and sell reprints of their stories.

Signing up is especially easy for WordPress users and can be done just by going to iCopyright. Those with other operating systems, or anybody with any problems installing iCopyright, can contact Chip Schafer. Once iCopyright has identified a news organization as being part of the NJ News Commons, it will grant access to an ad setup page that lets you both set your ad sizes and choose your ad network. You can get more detailed instructions here.

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Josh Stearns Profile Picture

By JOSH STEARNS

Welcome to the Local Fix. Subscribe to get the Local Fix delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news, starting with one good idea…

One good ideaMine Your Archives. Next Thursday, Sept. 18, Debbie Galant and I will be hosting a free online discussion about leveraging digital archives to add context to today’s top stories, drive a bit of nostalgic traffic, and develop new revenue streams. I hope you can join us.

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Morristown Cheese Shop

By JOE AMDITIS

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

Local businesses in Westfield are in the process of rebuilding after a Labor Day fire swept through the South Ave. strip mall. Jill D’Ambrosio of TAP into Westfield reports that the Westwood Cleaners has been sending smoke-damaged items to a clothing restoration company in Long Island to get the smell out.

The South Orange Board of Trustees has unanimously voted to endorse an amended “pay to play” ordinance that regulates the relationships between government contractors and their political contributions. Mary Mann of The Village Green reports that the ordinance, which is more restrictive than state law, bans any contributions from a contractor regardless of whether or not the government contract was awarded through a fair and open process.

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WBGOcut

By JOE AMDITIS

As Newark Public Radio’s Amy Niles takes the helm of the 35-year-old organization, she understands that she serves not one but two communities: the City of Newark and the community of jazz lovers. The station, more commonly known as WBGO 88.3 FM, is situated in Newark but also commands a jazz following worldwide through its streaming product.

Amy Niles 8.11.14“We’re very unique because our local community is Newark, but our community is also jazz. [Newark]  gives us a center. It gives us an anchor, and it really does distinguish us from an online service – from Pandora, from satellite radio – because when you’re listening to us I think you feel that no matter where you are, you’re listening to your local radio station,” Niles said. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t have extraordinary coverage for national and international news as well. But we’re really bringing the full perspective of what’s happening within this community – and this community is extraordinary.”

For now, Niles has no plans to alter the balance between the station’s news and jazz offerings. She points to current programming and community engagement as proof of what she believes is a winning strategy.

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Podcast Art NJ News Commons

What caught our eye this week was a new arrangement between Red Bank Green, an online site that started 8 years ago, and Shore Sports Zone, a start-up that produces sports videos. Sports Zone is just four months old.

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Josh Stearns Profile Picture

By JOSH STEARNS

Subscribe to get the Local Fix delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Each week we look at key debates in journalism sustainability and community engagement through the lens of local news, starting with one good idea…

One good idea: Be a Facilitator and a Creator. The Gazette Company in Iowa has launched a fascinating local project called “We Create Here” which describes its mission as: “Empowering the citizens of Iowa’s Creative Corridor to connect and engage with the issues that affect them.” I was particularly interested in how they think about “Intent, Collaboration and Context” as central values.

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Hoops kid

By JOE AMDITIS

Local Beat is NJ News Commons’ weekly roundup of the best and most topical reporting from local news sites around New Jersey.

There’s nothing more local than those basketball hoops people put on the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street. Carolyn Maynard-Parisi of the Village Green reports on the ruckus that broke out when Maplewood residents were told to remove the hoops or get slapped with $1,000 fines. The crisis was averted last night when residents – many of them kids – showed up in force at the Township Committee meeting and the town leaders reversed the policy.

Development projects were big in the news this week. In Morristown, Kevin Coughlin of Morristown Green reports on a proposal to turn the city’s last tract of undeveloped land into a day care center. The project would require the removal of about 200 trees from the one-acre plot.

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