In the summer of 2019, the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University began an effort to boost the amount of media coverage of the census in hard-to-count New Jersey communities.
The Center’s 2020 Census work was spurred by conversations its team had with members of the Census 2020 NJ Coalition in regard to how local media — especially ethnic, community and in-language media — could be motivated to do more coverage of the 2020 Census.
The NJ Media Counts fellowship was intended to allow each reporter and editor from each community to decide what approach and information their community needed and structure their work accordingly. Especially in immigrant communities, understanding of the U.S. Census varies widely; in some cases, journalists felt their communities needed a basic understanding of what the census was; in other cases, journalists felt their communities needed persuasion on why participating would matter.
The U.S. Census is a monumental task that underpins the workings of our nation’s democracy, and the results of the upcoming Census will deeply affect communities for years to come. However, we know that there are specific geographies and populations of people who are vulnerable to being undercounted or not counted at all.
The 2020 Census New Jersey Media Counts Initiative is intended to educate and promote completion of the Census form among people who are vulnerable to being undercounted. The Initiative will do this by spurring additive, targeted media coverage of the Census and community engagement in specific communities and among specific populations most at risk of being undercounted.
INCENTIVIZE MEDIA COVERAGE + EVENTS IN SPECIFIC VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES
To achieve this goal, the Center will hire a 2020 Census New Jersey Media Counts coordinator who will work with selected news outlets in New Jersey on media plans customized for each organization’s audience. Those media plans will be supported by small grants, coaching from the coordinator, and additional resources as needed. This program is supported with funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
The media plans could include (but are certainly not limited to) things such as the following:
- Production of a certain number of Census-related stories or columns. These stories will be translated into English, if necessary, and the Coordinator will distribute/pitch them to general market media partners.
- Publication of editorials submitted by community stakeholders.
- Creation and execution of local events or education forums in their communities.
- Use of a “pop-up wire service,” through which edited, in-language content is provided for publication.
- Creation of additional content that share information on Census-related issues ( e.g. ads, posters, newsletters, social media, etc.)