How advocates passed the U.S.’ first civic information bill

May 4: In 2020, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy released $1 million to the groundbreaking New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, an unprecedented effort to support local news across the state of New Jersey. The consortium, created and funded under the New Jersey Civic Information Bill of 2018, was established to revitalize local news, community information, civic engagement, and technologies across the state. According to Josh Stearns of Democracy Fund, who partnered with colleagues at the Free Press Action Fund to help create the bill, passing the legislation took “a decade of journalism innovation, community organizing, and philanthropic collaboration.” In his article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Stearns shares lessons on how to build long-term sustainability for local news through state and local legislation, including creating a network of stakeholders, putting philanthropic structures in place early on, and finally, learning to take risks.

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McClatchy Journalism Institute