NJ Spotlight News

Top left to right: David Cruz hosts a virtual Reporters Roundtable with journalists Joe Hernandez, and (bottom left to right) Katherine Landergan and NJ Spotlight News senior writer and projects editor Colleen O’Dea.

In October 2020, NJTV News and NJ Spotlight—both trusted, member-supported, award-winning independent news sources in New Jersey—were brought together to create a new, multiplatform approach to local, in-depth journalism in the state: NJ Spotlight News. The new brand united the two outlets and renamed both the news division and its flagship weeknight newscast, NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi.

“Thank you for your daily news and broadcast station in NJ. I watch it every day – so informative and great station to tune into for information.” – Anonymous Viewer on NJ Spotlight News

NJ PBS staples Chat Box (formerly On the Record) and Reporters Roundtable began new seasons with NJ Spotlight News Senior Correspondent David Cruz at the helm, showcasing fresh, multi-platform formats. Both programs now stream live on YouTube, powered by viewer questions submitted in real-time on social media, before broadcast on the weekend. These public affairs shows were complemented on YouTube by newcomer NJ Business Beat with Rhonda Schaffler, a weekly series featuring Garden State business matters and interviews with sector experts and influencers.

To provide timely, accessible and firsthand information on COVID-19 to the more than 1.8 million Latinos in New Jersey, NJ Spotlight, Montclair State University’s Center for Cooperative Media, and Reporte Hispano began translating news stories into Spanish. The EN ESPAÑOL partnership translated 74 stories in the past year, housed online on NJSpotlightNews.org. NJ Spotlight News’ daily Coronavirus Update page accounts for about 20% of all traffic to the website, outshining even the homepage.

The news team pivoted its regular live community roundtable events to a virtual format. Over the course of 13 events, panelists and attendees came together to discuss the challenges of remote learning, the importance of childcare for economic recovery, the structural racism exposed by COVID-19 and more.

NJ Decides, the politics hub of NJ Spotlight News, delivered comprehensive election coverage throughout the year, from hosting a debate between New Jersey 2nd Congressional District candidates Amy Kennedy (D) and incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R), to live political analysis and insights on Election Night.

In July, Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron, “Dean of the State House Press Corps,” stepped down from his daily reporting role to focus on weekly “special” contributions to the NJ Spotlight News broadcast.

NJ PBS hosted the debate for the 2nd District Congressional candidates in southern New Jersey. It was considered one of the most competitive races in the country.