The last month or two have been a rough time for anyone trying to stay optimistic about the future of the news media in New Jersey. First there was the news that the New York Times is going to cut the zoned content from its Metropolitan section, meaning that most of its New Jersey arts, restaurant and cultural coverage would be gone. Then came the news, yesterday, that New Jersey’s second largest daily newspaper, The Bergen Record, would be laying off a couple of hundred employees.
I’m not happy about any of that. But as my own site, NJArts.net, hits its two-year anniversary, today, these developments do make me feel like I did the right thing by creating it.
A little history: I was an employee of the state’s largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger, from 1989 to 2014, starting as a rock critic and eventually becoming arts and entertainment editor. During the paper’s massive reorganization in 2014, I was offered a new job there, but it wasn’t a very good job, and I decided to leave and start NJArts.net. With the newspaper industry collapsing all around me, it seemed like a good time to create my own online brand that wouldn’t be tied to anything else. I also started freelancing for The Bergen Record, The Star-Ledger’s Inside Jersey magazine and some other outlets.
It’s been a tough two years for me, financially, and I have not yet taken a vacation. But NJArts.net is continuing to grow, and I still feel there’s a need for it. I admit that some days, I fantasize about finding some other job with a steady weekly salary and all that kind of stuff. But mostly, I feel like I’m doing what I was meant to be doing, and need to be doing.
So, anyway, happy birthday to this! And let me take this opportunity to remind you that though this is not an official non-profit organization, we do gratefully accept donations (visit njarts.net/friends-supporters) and are always looking for new advertisers (visit njarts.net/advertise). I know people can feel helpless watching their favorite news organizations — ones that they’ve relied upon for years or decades, in some cases — shrink and become increasingly irrelevant. But here’s a small thing you can do to help.