Across the United States, shifting consumer behaviors and collapsing business models have heavily eroded the journalism and news landscape.

New Jersey has been hit particularly hard.

Sandwiched between two major media markets—New York City and Philadelphia—coverage of local government, local civic life, and local business in New Jersey has diminished significantly over the last decade as news organizations have gotten smaller or closed entirely. Our state is fortunate to have a thriving network of hyperlocal news organizations, but with 564 individual municipalities in New Jersey, coverage is still uneven.

As the Center for Cooperative Media has studied New Jersey news ecosystems in recent years, we have been identifying news deserts and news oases in our state. One early finding that stands out is how underserved so much of South Jersey is. In particular, we believe communities of color in South Jersey face an acute shortage of information that is vital for healthy communities.

That is why the Center partnered with the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists to launch the South Jersey Information Equity Project in April 2020. Its goal is to address media inequity in South Jersey, specifically by seeking to improve the quality and quantity of news and information produced by and for communities of color.

In its first phase the Center hired veteran journalist and South Jersey resident Sarah Glover to assess the news landscape for Black communities and journalists. Glover is currently the Vice President of News & Civic Dialogue at WHYY.  As part of her research, she interviewed a dozen Black journalists living and working in South Jersey and conducted ten community town halls to help examine how traditional and nontraditional media serve South Jersey’s Black communities. Glover’s work identified a clear need for more resources to elevate the skills and visibility of Black journalists in South Jersey, more information sharing and storytelling by and for Black communities, and more support for Black-led media ventures.

SJIEP launched its first cohort of fellows in 2022. This project aims to support and elevate Black media makers, specifically in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, and Atlantic counties — including those who identify as journalists and those who do not — and connect them with resources, funding, and platform partners to share their work.

Leading this effort is CCM’s Assistant Director of Membership and Programming, Cassandra Etienne and Project Coordinator, Adrienne Bauldock.

Many thanks to our South Jersey Information Equity Project partners and to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Independence Public Media Foundation, the NJ Civic Information Consortium and The Nicholson Foundation for their funding support.


A headshot of Cassandra Etienne wearing a black and white top and a white shell necklace.

Cassandra Etienne is the assistant director for membership and programming at the Center for Cooperative Media and the project lead for the South Jersey Information Equity Project.

Cassandra has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and has worked as a documentary producer and freelance reporter in New Jersey and her native New York City.

Contact Cassandra via email at [email protected].

A headshot of Adrienne Bauldock wearing a yellow top.

Adrienne Bauldock is the coordinator of the South Jersey Information Equity Project and works with creatives across New Jersey. She studied television and digital media at Montclair State University.

She spent her time at Montclair enhancing the skills and techniques she learned in high school at the Burlington County Institute of Technology.

Adrienne can be reached at [email protected].

Velvet S. McNeil is the training coordinator for SJIEP. She is an award-winning photojournalist and educator who is preparing the next generation of journalists. She has worked as a visual journalist for The Detroit News and Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

McNeil holds an MFA in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design and an undergraduate degree in studio art and secondary art education from Marymount College in New York.

McNeil currently teaches online photography courses at Bowie State University in Maryland and visual communications courses at Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She can be reached at [email protected].


Thanks to the Independence Public Media Foundation and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, for the generous funding and support they provided to this small but growing movement in support of South Jersey’s media ecosystem.