So, now that there is a somewhat nebulous bill to perhaps briefly extend the life of NJN, I have been approached numerous times by people who say, “did you hear??!!” Six more months!!! Alright!!!!”
Forgive me, for failing to share their enthusiasm. But the fact that a possible six month reprieve engenders such excitement gives you a sense of how far the terms of this debate have shifted.
I say “possible” because the legislation to figure out NJN doesn’t technically include a funding source. Money will have to be moved around elsewhere in order to keep this place alive.
As I have noted several times, the model here is outdated and needs to be changed. However, a transition that insures some kind of continuity would be ideal. Unfortunately, the lack of certainty has left people who work here confused and scared and that makes getting the product on the air more and more difficult each day. That is a sad state of affairs for a group of people who have devoted so much time and energy to the State’s New Jersey Network, which ultimately belongs to the people.
But there is another angle here which is worth noting. The legislators seem inclined to go along with a rapid transition, once the interested parties can figure out the new structure. They should be very cautious here. NJN covers the Legislature like a glove. There is tremendous value in that. Our coverage is comprehensive and fair. The individual bills and causes that are pushed by members may fall off sharply when NJN changes. That goes for both Republicans and Democrats.
Our Governor has often been described as a “rock star.” There is a lot of truth in that. He is able to get exposure elsewhere, including at his series of Town Hall Meetings…highlights of which are cleverly uploaded to youtube. This basically bypasses the local media by going straight to the people. The world of communications allows that today, and the Governor’s press shop has proven very adept at capitalizing on it.
Legislators with smaller bully pulpits still need local media to get exposure. And that is something to consider when the plans for NJN start to emerge.
After all, you never give away the store without at least getting a fair price.