Tag Archive: City Belt

Indie Jersey City – some news

All the news we’ve reported out of Jersey City the last few years has been bad.

Okay, most of it. And some of it just awful. But one of the bright spots for us has been Jersey City Independent, the indie news website that sprang up there less than a year ago (and its predecessor, the nervy newsprint City Belt). We like the fresh approach to the news, the mixmash of JC’s vibrant music/arts scene, and the progressive approach to the city’s possibilities. In The Independent, they built a solid, fun local on line presence in the city where we love to spend our money.

We’ve done a number of posts here lamenting the decline of unique viewpoint, the cutbacks, and the rare flashes of hope for what some new media types call dead tree media. Sad name if I ever heard one.

New ventures in print are rare, so we’re happy our friends at The Independent are taking over NEW, the twice-yearly arts, culture/lifestyle magazine already covering Jersey City. They’ll be a print/web hybrid operation starting in April, when the first issue of NEW, produced by their “small and scrappy” staff comes out, while The Independent continues on the web.

We cover politics here. So why are we telling you about a culture magazine launch? Because policy impacts culture, and we know these folks think in big pictures. In questions like, Why doesn’t JC have a full-out music venue despite the fact the city is crawling with bands? In stories about bike lanes. Clean air. How to strengthen local economies and community-supported agriculture. And a viable hotshot arts scene.

So, here’s to the new NEW, and the twice-as-busy staff now juggling 2 ventures and madly scribbling stories as they get their first issue of NEW ready to hit the streets. They want to be a longstanding, sustainable alternative media outlet for a city that desperately needs it. Yes, more please. We do better with strong independent voices throwing a spotlight on the world – and down the block. And we can’t wait to see what you guys do next.  

Jersey City Independent launches

What with shrinking news holes, drastic staff cuts, struggling news bureaus, looming financial crisis, brethren in the online world facing uphill struggles and poignant efforts to rescue the traditional newspapers we all grew up with, it’s been a demoralizing year for New Jerseyans who depend on newspapers to help them comprehend and analyze the world – and the state – we live in.

Today, in one corner of the Garden State – Jersey City – a handful of journalists officially flipped the light switch on in a new venture, a non-profit website covering that city’s news, politics and culture: The Jersey City Independent. Some of you may remember City Belt, the progressive independent news site, also based in Jersey City. This is largely the same team, and their background is wide-ranging, including alt-weeklies, community newspapers, online news outlets, media research, video production and grassroots service organizations in New Jersey, Los Angeles, Beirut and Bogotá, Colombia.

Sometimes there’s a little ham-handedness when news organizations endeavor to slip tentative, figurative toes into internet waters. But by contrast, the JCI founders are accustomed to presenting information on the interwebs and – bonus – have background in the rich tradition of alternative weeklies, a sometimes saving grace for intelligent readers in the cities lucky enough to have them.

With the Jersey Journal in apparent trouble, here’s hoping JCI adds some vitality to the news scene in the state’s second largest city.  

Best New Jersey Blog of 2006

The winner of this year’s Screaming Carrot Award is City Belt.

The Alternative Press came in a close second and is this year’s runner-up.

City Belt provides great original, independent reporting on issues important to New Jersey at a time when traditional media outlets in the state are slashing staff. The Alternative Press is all about New Providence and is a model for the type of very local blog that each town should have.

But this contest wasn’t just about which blog was the most carrot-worthy. It’s real purpose was to highlight the diversity of talent and hard work in the New Jersey blogosphere. So if you’re not familiar with them yet, check out all the nominees, bookmark them, and visit them from time to time. They’re all a labor of love and it shows in their writing: Blanton’s and Ashton’s, Brilliant at Breakfast, The Center of NJ Life, Channel Surfing, Dump Mike, Lassiter Space, The Opinion Mill, The Rix Mix, and Xpatriated Texan.

Finally, some words from 2005’s Screaming Carrot Award winner:

Steven Hart, whose blog The Opinion Mill won last year’s inaugural Screaming Carrot Award, offered his congratulations to City Belt and reaffirmed his belief that all of this year’s nominees deserve to be bookmarked and visited frequently by all and sundry.

“Frankly, I’m a little relieved to be able to hand the Screaming Carrot off to other deserving parties,” Hart said. “I just hope they’re ready for what comes next: The screaming crowds, the paparazzi dogging you day and night, the endless requests for public appearances and endorsements — it gets wearing. After a while it seemed I could hardly walk down the street without women squealing and throwing their undergarments at me. Actually, I kind of liked that last part, and I’m hoping that as Carrot Emeritus I’ll still see a bit of it from time to time.”

During his tenure as Carrot Wielder, Hart invented the new national holiday of Bushtemberfest, switched his blog to WordPress and repeatedly pimp-slapped the proprietor of The Rick Santorum Anonymously Managed Republican Home for the Mentally Deficient, otherwise known as Enlighten-NJ.

With the polling for the Screaming Carrot Award now finished, Hart said he planned to spend more time with his family on their scorpion ranch in Central New Jersey.

Of Raised Profiles and Trickle-Down Theory

So, according to this story in the Star-Ledger today, “Rutgers’ success on the gridiron has generated awareness of New Jersey’s state university across the country.” Beyond the initial “Duh” after reading the sentence, you most likely say to yourself, as a proud New Jerseyan, “…and that can’t be bad,” or something to that effect. Indeed, that’s the way the two newspapers that ran stories on the new survey by Opinion Research Corporation frame it. The S-L headline: “A game raises Rutgers’ national profile.” And in the Asbury Park Press: “A lot more people know Rutgers’ name.” The headlines are so banal, it’s hard to think about what’s really going on here. I mean, who could disagree with new puppies?

But the most interesting part of the survey findings seems to work against the hypothesis presented by Athletic Director Robert Mulcahy and other Rutgers officials. They argue that the success of the football team, and the subsequent national recognition, will bring not only cash to the university, but a higher standard of academic learning. It is a hallucinatory pipe dream Mulcahy seems to be having quite a lot lately, in which the main actor, Jane Six-Pack in Anytown, America watches Rutgers on TV, maybe in a bowl game, and maybe she sees one of those ridiculous ads some schools run whilst their football team is playing, and she thinks, “I bet that Rutgers has some kick-ass philosophers/scientists/etc. — maybe my gifted son/daughter should think about applying!”

So what does the survey say? Find out after the jump.

Cross-posted from City Belt.

Support City Belt

City Belt First Issue CoverHave you picked up a copy of City Belt yet? Their inaugural edition came out on September 1st and it’s being distributed in locations across North and Central Jersey including Jersey City, Hoboken, New Brunswick, Montclair, Highland Park and Princeton. They’ll be expanding to more locations soon, but if you’re outside of their distribution area, you can subscribe for the low, low price of $15 a year for 12 issues. Can’t beat that with a stick.

Now you might be asking yourself: “Self, what is City Belt?” The founders describe it like this: “New York has the Village Voice. Philadelphia has the City Paper. Now New Jersey has City Belt – an alternative media outlet with daily web and monthly print editions…City Belt is the new independent, progressive newsmagazine covering north and central Jersey.”

You can read City Belt online every day, but if you can, pick up a print copy for content that you won’t find online. City Belt is also looking for writers and someone to do ad sales. As an independent, progressive news source, they also deserve our financial support, so if you can afford it, get a subscription. Or better yet, advertise with them. They have very good rates. Click below to see our ad in their first edition (and feel free to suggest ideas for future ads):

Blue Jersey ad in City Belt

Tonight: Clifton Iraq War Forum

Just wanted to remind you all to come out to Clifton tonight to take part in the discussion “What if Iraq is the New Vietnam?” — it will be led by a great panel, including Rep. William J. Pascrell, Jr. (D-8), Rutgers history professor Lloyd Gardner, and Ken Dalton, President of New Jersey Veterans For Peace. The event is sponsored by NJ For Democracy, and co-sponsored by Passaic County DFA and City Belt.

We asked Ken to write a little something for City Belt. In it, he reflects on what it was like to transform from “a real right-winger” to a leading antiwar activist. Some of his experiences with the Vietnam War have eerie parallels today:

“During my sophomore year at Clifton High School in 1968 we had to watch a Ministry of Propaganda flick called ‘Why Vietnam.’ It was narrated by then President Lyndon Banes Johnson. It said that we had to fight the Viet Cong over there or we would have to fight them over here.” (Emphasis Added)

Event details: UFCW Hall, 1389 Broad St., Clifton, 7 pm. RSVP here.

City Belt Launches With a Look at Lyon

The idea was first floated a few years ago, between journalists Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg and Jon Whiten: let’s start an alternative paper in New Jersey.

After many brainstorming sessions and lots of planning and study, July 1 marked the realization of that idea with the launch of City Belt, an independent, progressive news organization that’s focused on the cities and towns of North and Central New Jersey. City Belt will at first be a monthly magazine, distributed mainly through small businesses and college campuses — the first print issue debuts Sept. 1. The Internet offers City Belt a space to pursue an even greater amount of journalism; the Web site will be updated at least once daily.

City Belt will muckrake and revist a golden age when the alternative press had investigative vigor and the political conviction to stand up for what is important. And just what do we think is important? Social justice issues and good government, for starters. City Belt will also be covering the local arts scene in ways that probe deeper than patronage. Overall, we hope to be a voice of the progresssive community in New Jersey, and to further foster political, cultural and civic engagement. We welcome feedback — after all, we need readers as much as we hope readers will come to need us.

Our first story is a quick look into the background of Chris Lyon, the independent contractor working on the film commisioned by the Kean campaign to paint Menendez as unethical. We found some pretty interesting stuff by just looking around a bit, and thought it was important to get this out there. We hope that other news organizations will use their resources to look more closely at the pasts of those involved in this very important election, especially when doing so may shine light on hypocrisy or dishonesty.

City Belt is currently also looking for all kinds of help: we are scraping by in true DIY fashion, and could always use writers, distributors, tips on friendly businesses (both for advertising and distribution), and story ideas. We certainly can’t promise riches, but we do promise to reward all efforts to help get City Belt off the ground. Thanks.