The Streetlight, a newspaper published by TCNJ Bonner Community Scholars with and for people experiencing homelessness or poverty in the Trenton area, received two honors from the Center for Cooperative Media as part of their 2019 Excellence in Local News Awards.
The Streetlight won the Engage Local award for its commitment to community engagement. The paper also was named runner-up for the NJ News Commons Partner of the Year award.
“We are creating a newspaper and resource guide that allows people who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness to both tell their story and learn more about local organizations and public policy in the capital region,” says Jared Kofsky ’20, managing editor.
Published twice annually, The Streetlight tackles issues such as the expansion of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and the effects of extreme weather conditions. The 2018–2019 winter issue reported that the Trenton Free Public Library either did not open or closed early on 24 of the hottest days in summer 2018. On these days, Trenton residents did not have the option to cool down in their local library as state officials recommended they should.
Each issue also includes artwork, poetry, and prose pieces by community members struggling with poverty and homelessness. Streetlight staff members procure these from the Trenton Community A-Team’s Studio 51, ArtSpace at HomeFront’s Family Campus in Ewing, and patrons of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.
“The results are gorgeous!” says Janet Mazur, TCNJ writing instructor and member of The Streetlight’s editorial review board. “The color artwork absolutely lights up the pages. Some of the stories are raw and dramatic and offer a glimpse into a side of life often under reported.”
The Streetlight prints the Mercer County Resource Guide, which includes information on emergency shelters and food banks. The paper is distributed at 60 locations around the region, including libraries, municipal and county government offices, food pantries, and local charities.
“I think the way that Streetlight reporters and editors have gone out of their way to lift up the stories of people from some of the most vulnerable and neglected sectors of their community is incredibly endearing,” says Joe Amditis, associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media.
“It portrays a genuine sense of obligation to the community as a whole.”
Kofsky says the honors that The Streetlight received confirmed his belief in the importance of local media. He says, “Our community partners regularly tell us how vital The Streetlight is to their clients and being recognized for our community engagement efforts in our reporting further shows just how important this unique type of media is.”
The Center for Cooperative Media is a grant-funded organization based in Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media. The primary goal of the Excellence in Local News Awards is to recognize the efforts of local media outlets to go above and beyond the call of duty in their own communities. The Streetlight clearly did.
— Sarah Voorhees ’20