After nearly five years, today Shore News Network has chosen to leave the Montclair University Center for Cooperative Media’s New Jersey News Commons. The commons was originally designed as a network of hyperlocal news sites in New Jersey working together to cross-pollinate New Jersey’s independent local media.
Shore News Network was one of the first local media outlets here at the Jersey Shore to embrace this effort of the North Jersey local media to work its way south. Debbie Galant, the founder of the organization did a tremendous job with the cooperative and has since departed.
Ms. Galant had a great bottom-up approach to media in New Jersey that empowered local news providers. Baristanet was a model that I approved of and admired. Debbie was a leading voice against over commercializing the hyperlocal media landscape in New Jersey.
She founded a movement we supported called “Authentically Local”, which sought to protect the little guys against the major media efforts in local news. We proudly ran her authentically local logo in our magazines and online for years.
At the time, Galant posted something that sparked our interest, “When I began Baristanet, I was not setting out to change the world. I merely saw an opportunity. Blogging had created an instant publishing platform and with a minor investment, I could start a 21st century version of the local hometown paper. The news site I imagined would be breezier than a traditional newspaper, more fun, and more interactive. And I soon learned, a lot nimbler as well,” she said in her farewell statement to Baristanet before starting her tenure at Montclair State University.
We loved her idea. We supported her idea. Later in the cycle when Patch was allowed into the network, she supported our objection to breaking the very foundation we all stood on.
It’s been nearly two years since Galant left and replaced by a former Gannett Media executive and the commons has changed with it. It has become a top-down media group that now revolves mostly around itself.
It has also allowed in the mainstream media that Galant has so valiantly once defended us all against. Times have changed. While many of the cooperatives’ partner media remains the small guy, it is now dominated by New Jersey’s major media networks and the mainstream.
Shore News Network has always been the anti-mainstream media platform of the Jersey Shore. We are not mainstream and we don’t adhere in any way to a top-down media approach, which is why I have made the decision to leave the cooperative.
Our vision of media which is pro-community, pro-police, pro-military, pro-common sense and a government watchdog that focuses on BOTH parties’ wrongdoings in New Jersey doesn’t exactly jive with the liberal mainstream media platform of New Jersey. Our vision of the media also involves celebrating all that is good within the communities we serve, not about advancing our journalistic careers up the corporate media ladder.
There are some excellent members in the cooperative, but I’ve never been one to be part of the clique for the sake of belonging. We also saw SNN in a different light than our peers. We are all about empowering the average person. Everyone deserves a voice in the media, not just the editors and self-appointed journalists of the multimillion-dollar mainstream media industry. Nor do we wish to participate in an organization that empowers mainstream media outlets scared of the stronger independent media, which is what has transpired.
After learning that several of the members in the cooperative, mostly our competitors who recently joined the cooperative had complained about our affiliation since they deem us “not the media”, I made the decision to leave.
At the end of the day, SNN stands on our own accomplishments. Over 2.5 million magazines delivered in 10 years, 1,000,000 readers each year online and over 120,000 fans on Facebook.
Not to mention our journalistic accomplishments, such as our works published in nearly every newspaper, television network, radio station and magazine in the civilized world, something those competitors don’t have and never will have.
With that, here’s to our new future, once again leading the charge of independent, non-affiliated, non-corporate, non-liberal media at the Jersey Shore. Media is not supposed to be left…it’s not supposed to be right. Operating in the middle makes us a lot of enemies, but neither side will scare us into silence, neither will America’s failing newspaper industry.
Shore News Network is dedicated to remaining Authentically Local. We don’t need ex-Gannett executives trying to tell us we’re not.
Phil Stilton, Editor SNN.