NJ Media Is Dead. Long Live NJ Media.

The demise of NJN has been a major bum-out, especially for political junkies; many of have come to see the station’s Jersey-centric coverage as more than essential for the little state caught between two huge media markets, but lacking a cohesive TV landscape of it’s own. To be sure, mainstays like Michael Aron’s On The Record and Reporters Roundtable will be sorely missed, as they have come to serve important functions for NJ’s political watchers and doers.

But let’s take a deep breath – because as a medium, television is both hurting and evolving; when it comes to news, even more so. What once used to be a time-sensitive ritual of getting in front of the TV set in time to watch one’s favorite show has ceded ground to the Internet, smartphones, time-shifted viewing and more. And while TV broadcasters used to be unique in their ability to create and spread content far and wide, that’s just not the case any more.

So in the spirit of making crisis into opportunity, let’s hope that the many talented, dedicated, insightful and resourceful folks who served this state so well for so long are able to find a path forward that keeps their important work alive while adapting to changes in the media landscape. Let’s see podcasts, and streaming feeds and social networking and stuff no one has yet invented. It’s not just an opportunity to pick up the pieces and try to find a way to move on – it’s a chance to flex with the times, grow and ultimately become better. Sure, there will always be those media consumers who are married to their TVs, but their ranks are dwindling and will ultimately disappear. So no, it’s never going to be the same as it was. But change – no matter how much it may suck at the time – can be good. And when it comes to media for New Jersey, by New Jersey, perhaps the best is yet to come. (And who knows? Maybe 20 people can do the work of 200 like the governor says. Also, maybe the sun will turn purple and put on sunglasses.)

Alternate, less saccharine ending: Governor Christie and those like him (Karl Rove, the Koch Brothers, etc.) would like nothing more than to silence any outlet that might threaten their agenda of privatization and greater corporate control of American society. That includes New Jersey. Then consider the analog newspapers, and the increasingly choppy waters they must negotiate. It becomes simple, and something we all already know, because we’re living it: the traditional media landscape which defined the past has changed, and will continue to change, dramatically. And whoever is most flexible and adaptive to these changes will likely retain an indomitable edge when it comes to reaching people, and trying to convince them that your ideas are better than the other guy’s.

Better stay sharp.  

Comments (11)

  1. Rosi Efthim

    It’s a good reminder. And a reason to stay in the game.

  2. 12mileseastofTrenton

    The NJN nightly news was the flagship of the network.  It provided quality, in-depth news reporting.  It is dead.  To be replaced by Rafael Pi Lightweight interviewing a bunch of talking heads.  That’s not a news show based on news reporting.  It is higher class fluff.

    All the pollyanishism in the world won’t change the fact that there will no longer be a nightly news show reporting on New Jersey news.

  3. robosz

    I’m an NJN staffer who didn’t work on News but some of other stuff for NJ citizens that has been completely overlooked … documentaries and educational/informational programs about NJ’s culture, history, environment, people, etc.  One of the reasons NJN had so many people is that NJN was a public institution providing a high level of original production, more than most local PBS stations, as well as doing the job that few PBS locals take on … the daily Newscast, complete with field reporting.  Thus, because NJ is such a screwed-up media landscape in the PRIVATE marketplace, NJN was a public institution (non-profit) that was exceeding the normal requirements of a PBS local station.  It was an anomaly, but in a good way; other states have 4,5 or even 8 PBS local stations, and few of those stations produce their own local shows — NONE produce News.  So NJ was lucky in that way, as long as people believed that a state government could step in and create a valued public institution to provide service where the marketplace would not.  

    That battle for NJN as a viable public institution, like a local library, or a state museum, the State Archives, or the State Police, … funded by Government and Governor and tax money but valid because it is needed … died last year.  NJN was never “in the TV business.”  It was a public institution performing its service via the broadcast medium; it, by law, couldn’t sell commercials or make a profit.  

    Now the Governor has a private video crew, probably, shooting and editing and posting personal media clips.  Is that taxpayer funded?  Is that serving all citizens, of all parties?  Is it Government in the tv business?  You tell me…  Should we disallow the “State of NJ web site or Homepage” with the Gov’s happy photo on it, because it is Government in the Internet Business?  Is it okay for Government to be the gambling business (casino development, lottery?)  In the tourism/entertainment business (271 million for the “new” Xanadu?)  

    Every new Governor hands out 1,000’s of new jobs and appointments, to people who “owe their job” to Gov, directly or through another go-between who got them the appointment.  Why are NJN employees smeared as Soviet-era lackeys … but all those others are able to be paid by the Governor and considered worthy public servants?  

    In response to the original post … yes the media environment is changing, but if each and every penny of public funding is taken away, many many less glamorous and certainly less profitable channels of information that depend on a few scant dollars of seed money will all go away, never to return.  


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