NOTE:  Before moving forward, make sure you have taken the "Citizen Journalist" class.  If you are hitting walls in your efforts, we can help with a one on one coach.  Find out more details about our coaching program.


Rita_Allen.pngWith funding from The Rita Allen Foundation, The Citizens Campaign is able to organize the New Jersey Online News Resource Group to provide free training and resources to municipal reporters and citizen journalists.  



Book_Cover_4.JPGShining Light in Dark Spaces: A Hyperlocal Reporter's Guide to Covering Municipal Government in New Jersey

Click here to download a PDF Version

Click here to view the online web version



General Resources

Mapping! Huzzah - a data mapping tip sheet prepared by Steve Stirling at The Star-Ledger. 

Participation Guide: Citizen Journalist - a review of the class and tips to make your experience more successful

Citizens Guide To The Media - an A-Z on developing a media strategy, with "how to's" on press releases/conferences, letters to the editor and op eds, interviews, etc.  (download the pdf version)

Data Journalism Tip Sheet from Colleen O'Dea of NJ Spotlight, highlighting various ways she uses interactive Google Fusion maps for sharing information and news.

List of Online News Sites (i.e. "Hyperlocals") by County


Reporter's Training Sessions 

transparency.jpgWebinar: Best Practices And Legal Rights to Accessing Police Records

NJ ACLU Policy Counsel Alexander Shalom offers reporters tips and advice for accessing records. We cover topics such as 9-1-1 tapes, personnel records, MVR  (dashboard camera) tapes, redacting records, crime statistics, and much more. Watch Now!



NJ Spotlight Editor at Large Hank Kalet and Assistant Director of Local Government Research at Bloustein School at Rutgers University Marc Pfeiffer walk you through the budget process, definition, and big picture issues any local journalist should be looking into. Watch now!


datamappingwebinar.JPGWebinar: Data Mapping 

Tell your story through visualizing data. NJ Spotlight's Colleen O'Dea walks you through using shapefiles, google maps, and other free programs that can create powerful images. Watch now!


blogging_webinar.JPGWebinar: How to Start a Blog 

Put your ideas into action and start a blog. It's really quite easy. Watch this webinar with Roselle Park News editor and citizen journalist Saul Qersdyn as he walks you through how to start a wordpress website. Watch now!


Investigative Reporting

Paterson Press editor Joe Malinconico and NJ Spotlight reporter Hank Kalet share their tips and inside information for investigative reporting. 

"New Media in a Post Sandy World" Keynote, Jeff Jarvis

Jeff Jarvis (blogger extraordinaire and Davos' World Economic Forum's 100 most influential people) keynotes at our workshop for citizen journalist on new forms of media to share news and spread info.  Jeff talks about his ideal system of what needs to be done to make our state more efficient and effective in connecting each of us to news.



"New Media in a Post Sandy World" Expert Panel Talk

On April 1, 2013, we hosted an event to share new forms of media that are being used to share information and news.  We thought these platforms would be something our citizen journalists could use!   Justin Auciello of Jersey Shore Hurricane News talked about his use of Facebook; Colleen O'Dea of NJ Spotlight spoke of data journalism with Google Fusion maps; and Mike Lemonick (Climate Central) talked about what makes for good blogging.


Panel Discussion: Shared Services & Consolidation

We hosted a panel discussion with top experts in municipal consolidation and shared services, covering political hurdles, best practices, and what reporters should be reporting on as this hot topic makes it way into towns across New Jersey. The panel included Assemblyman Upendra Chivikula, Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner, Courage to Connect Founder and Executive Director Gina Genovese, and moderated by NJ Spotlight Editor at Large Mark Magyar. Watch Now!

Handouts: Courage to Connect Guidebook on Consolidation


Panel Discussion: OPRA and the Sunshine Law Best Practices

We brought together an attorney, a municipal clerk, a reporter, and a citizen activist to talk about legal rights and best practices for obtaining records and holding officials accountable to the Sunshine Law. Panelists included NJ ACLU Staff Attorney Bobby Conner, Jersey City Municipal Clerk Robert Byrne, NJ Spotlight reporter Colleen O'Dea, and noted citizen activist John Paff.  Watch Now!

Handouts: NJ ACLU provided copies of their Guide to OPRA and Guide to the Sunshine Law


Panel Discussion: Candidates, Campaigns, and Contributions

This session discussed best practices for covering municipal elections. Panelists included NJ Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) Deputy Director Joe Donohue, PolitiFax Editor Nick Acocella, and Editor Joe Malinconico. Watch now!

Handouts: How to Follow the Money


Panel Discussion: Understanding how the Political Parties Operate

We often call the political parties the "hidden power center" because most people don't know how much of the behind the scenes they control. Panel included The Citizens Campaign Chairman Harry Pozycki, Star-Ledger Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran, and former Republican Party State Chairman Tom Wilson. Watch Now!


Panel Discussion: How to Understand & Report on Municipal Budgets

Property taxes is the number one isssue of concern to New Jersey residents. They want to cut taxes and at the same time preserve services. We asked some of the states leading experts in municipal budgeting their advice on what to look for in local government. The panel included head of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs Tom Neff, Municipal Financial Officer, Hunterdon County Freeholder Rob Walton, and veteran reporter Gail Ferguson Jones. (Watch now!)


Panel Discussion: How to Understand & Report on School Budgets

A local school budget represents the largest piece of the property tax pie. Its important to understand what factors must be taken into account when trying to identify ways to save money. Edison School Board President and former NY Times National Education Correspondent Gene Maeroff offers his insight on how school boards function; Bernards Township Superintendent Valerie Groger talks about the main line items in every school budget; School board Attorney Jonathan Busch reviews the budget process and opportunities for public input; and NJSpotlight Editor  and veteran education reporter John Mooney offers his own insider tips on what to look for and what questions a local reporter should be asking. 

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