News Sites Partner to Put Spotlight on Immigration in New Jersey

February 22, 2016


NJ Spotlight, Center for Cooperative Media and New America Media launch $30,000 crowdfunding campaign

The run-up to the presidential election has thrust the subject of immigration squarely into the center of public discourse. Yet much of the discussion thus far has been heightened rhetoric calling for walled borders, barring entire populations for fear of terrorism, and forcing those without documents to return to their country of origin — regardless of family or how long they’ve called the United States home.

Here at NJ Spotlight, we believe New Jerseyans have a vested interest in an analysis of immigration that is framed by facts and actual experience. So we’d like to lead a much more nuanced discussion that includes the voices of New Jersey immigrant communities themselves.

That’s why NJ Spotlight, together with partners at Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media and New America Media, have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a year-long series that will look at the issue of immigration from all sides.

Twenty-two percent of New Jersey’s population is foreign born — the third highest in the nation. We also have the most varied population of immigrants in the country. They come from all over the world to the most densely populated state in the nation.

Our partnership with Montclair State’s Center for Cooperative Media coordinates with hyperlocal websites throughout the state that have seen immigrant influxes. Some of the funds raised will go to those sites to help them do in-depth reporting in their neighborhoods, whether they are coping with fears or taking policy steps like creating identification cards and other ways to provide sanctuary and safety to documented and undocumented immigrants.

A unique part of our project is our partnership with New America Media, which works with ethnic media outlets in New Jersey and across the nation. If we are successful in meeting (or exceeding) our $30,000 goal, we will use a portion of the funds to support New America Media and other ethnic media outlets across the state, publications that know and understand the issues in the communities they serve, and will be integral to collecting and disseminating these stories.

We’ll feature their reporting as part of our project and aim to better understand how immigrant communities are affected by issues such as immigration and customs raids, overflowing immigration courts, and taunts that emanate from fears of terrorism.

We should also remember that most of our immigrants are documented, and they contribute to our economy by providing needed skilled and semi-skilled labor. We want to better understand that side of the story too, as well as how immigrants impact our economy, our schools, our health systems, and our culture.

One other thing: our collaborative approach works in another way: While our many partners will share in the labor and the funds we raise, our regular distribution partners will also benefit.

Readers and listeners of NJ Monthly, National Public Radio affiliates WHYY in Philadelphia and WNYC in New York, NJTV, as well as and numerous others will have access to these stories on their pages and airwaves. With such wide distribution, we are confident that we can spur a reasoned and honest discussion of how immigration is changing New Jersey. We want to engage audiences in a greater understanding of how immigration affects us all.

To learn more about In the Shadow: New Jersey Immigration campaign, click here. We only have two more weeks to reach our goal of $30,000. Every donation is tax deductible and will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon.

Information and understanding are the only two ways we will be able to diminish the political polarization we currently face. Only by creating greater understanding can we begin to address our issues.

Lee Keough

Lee Keough is co-founder and editor-in-chief of NJ Spotlight, a news and information service that delivers insight and analysis on issues of critical importance to New Jersey.