Weinberg Says Fios1 News Shutdown Underscores Need for NJ’s Media Consortium
$1 Million for Civic Information Consortium on Administration’s ‘Freeze List’
Trenton – The pending shutdown of Fios1’s news channel underscores the need to get the university based news consortium up and running, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said today reacting to the announcement by Verizon that RNN News will cease providing news programming for New Jersey.
Senator Weinberg was the lead sponsor of legislation, signed into law last August, establishing the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium to support research and innovation in media and technology. An appropriation of $1 million to fund the initiative was “frozen” by the administration this year by an executive order after the state budget was enacted into law.
“The cutbacks in news coverage and the realignment of the journalism industry have a real life impact on civic engagement and the ability of the public to be fully informed,” said Senator Weinberg. “We don’t want to see the shutdown of Fios1, but we also don’t want to allow the civic consortium to lay dormant. The consortium is intended to promote innovation in the media and train a new generation of journalists to work in a rapidly-changing industry.”
An appropriation last year of $5 million for the consortium was never used by the administration, hindering the ability to get the program fully operational, Senator Weinberg said.
The university-based consortium includes the College of New Jersey, Montclair State, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University and Rutgers University.
“A representative democracy is dependent on civic engagement and a functioning news sector plays a vital role,” said Senator Weinberg. “This consortium of universities will be incubators for innovation in the media. The program is important for the future of journalism in New Jersey and for the health of our democracy. ”
(While $5 million was not used by the administration last year and $1 million was frozen this year, a separate allocation of “up to $1 million” in the current state budget remains in place.)