NJ Spotlight says its mission is to deliver "insight and information on issues critical to New Jersey, with the aim of informing and engaging the state’s communities and businesses." While the site has the support of several foundations, it also has developed a significant revenue stream staging public affairs conferences and webinars
NJ Spotlight is an award-winning online New Jersey news service launched in 2010, covering public policy issues and their impact on communities. Founded by former print journalists seeking to keep "beat" journalism alive, NJ Spotlight focuses especially on education, energy, environment, health care and public finance, publishing up to 10 pieces of new and original content each day. In 2011, we won the Online News Association's award for "General Excellence" in its category, cited by judges as the "the best example in the nation for independent statehouse reporting; small but mighty." We have content distribution partnerships with all the major public media outlets in the region, including New York Public Radio, WHYY Public Radio in Philadelphia, and WNET Public Television in New York City. We also has a formal agreement for sharing content with Philly.com, the online site of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Daily News. NJ Spotlight is funded through a combination of foundation support and earned income. Its primary foundation funders are Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, the Community Foundation of NJ, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. In addition, about a third of our budget is covered through earned income from advertising on the site and sponsorships of our programs. The programs include public roundtable discussions throughout the state around key policy issues like charter schools, solar energy, health care reform and land use planning. Still, being so reliant on foundations poses its obvious challenges, and NJ Spotlight is ever striving to come up with stable and predictable funding streams.
Events are probably most prominent way, although it may not be the highest numbers. We launched our first "NJ Spotlight on Cities" event where we held an all-day conference focusing on urban policy. It drew more than 250 people and was by far our best event yet, with plans now to do it annually. We also hold 5-6 smaller roundtables on specific issues that have up to 100 people each, and probably a half-dozen breakfasts and smaller events for donors and other friends. In each case, it is an opportunity for NJ Spotlight to spread its brand and engage with our most loyal readers, while they can network with each other and learn more on specific issues.
Not so much vexing as just hard, our biggest challenge is just finding the time and capacity to build a stable revenue base. And there is so little room for error, when living year to year on foundation grants and operating as a small shop.
Our other beats are energy, environment and public finance, and through freelancers, we also cover transportation, housing, and economic development.
Our columnists are mostly experts and not professional journalists.
We are often cited by other publications and news outlets.