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N.J. approves $5 million for effort to boost local news

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Phil Murphy speaks to supporters at the Asbury Park Convention Hall

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (AP, file)

When New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the state budget into law Sunday night, he approved $5 million for a state media consortium intended to boost local news.

Both houses of the state Legislature passed the so-called Civic Info Bill last month, which would create a nonprofit called the Civic Information Consortium. The governor has yet to sign the bill itself.

The nonprofit will be run by Rowan University, Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the College of New Jersey, and Rutgers University, and it will funnel money toward local news organizations, especially those serving diverse audiences and offering a range of perspectives, according to The Hill.

The Free Press Action Group, a media advocacy organization, supported the bill.

“The New Jersey Civic Information Consortium would be the first of its kind in the nation — a fund that would help us reimagine what public interest media looks like in the 21st century,” said Mike Rispoli, the director of the Free Press Action Fund News Voices, in his testimony during a Senate hearing on the legislation.

Supporters of the bill originally intended to fund the group with $100 million of the $300 million collected after the sale of unused public television licenses in the site, but that number was reduced to $5 million after much political wrangling, according to the NJ Pen.

“It’s been found that every dollar spent on producing news produces hundreds of dollars toward the public’s benefit,” Rispoli said.

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