NJTV will move production studios from Montclair State U.

By Andrew Lapin

New Jersey’s pubTV station will relocate its news-production facility from Montclair State University in Montclair, where the station has filmed its nightly newscast NJTV News since 2011.

The move was announced Friday and will take place by the end of October. NJTV’s three-year collaboration agreement with the school ends Nov. 4.

The station has not settled on a new location for its facility but is scouting potential sites in Newark, according to a joint release from the station and school. The station has additional administrative offices at the headquarters of WNET in New York, which operates NJTV.

The university “was a great home for us when we first started out,” said NJTV General Manager John Servidio. “Without them, we probably couldn’t have gotten to the point where we are now.” But the station came to need more room to accommodate its growing staff, Servidio said. In 2011 NJTV “had basically no one” on staff, he said, but now upwards of 35 full-time and freelance staffers assist on newscasts daily.

In a statement, WNET CEO Neal Shapiro also expressed a desire to “expand our news operation and create an environment where we can more directly interact with our viewers.”

NJTV is planning a capital campaign to assist with the move. The station decided on Newark because of the central role the city plays in New Jersey politics and community organizing, Servidio said.

NJTV moved to MSU’s campus in late 2011 following the dissolution of the statewide New Jersey Network, which the state government had elected to defund. Around the same time, MSU announced the creation of its School of Communication and Media, with access to NJTV’s news-production studios as a selling point for students. In addition to constructing a custom set for NJTV News (formerly NJ Today), MSU also provided office space for producers and student interns to assist with production. The university began admitting students to its communication school in fall 2013.

“I think it’s the natural evolution of the relationship,” said MSU Vice President for Advancement John Shannon about the move. “When NJTV was launched, we were quite pleased, being a state institute of higher education, to provide a home, to continue to ensure that New Jersey had a nightly news broadcast emanating from New Jersey.” But both institutions have grown, and their missions have changed, he said. “These things happen, and we’re going to continue to work forward with NJTV.”

MSU plans to more than double its production facilities and is building a 65,000–square-foot space for the communications school, to open in 2016. Within the past six months, the school presented a plan for the station to stay in the expanded facility, but NJTV ultimately declined, Shannon said. An NJTV spokesperson said that the station needed more space than the university was willing to commit.

New Jersey Public Radio, a fellow NJN refugee that moved some editorial offices and production facilities to MSU’s campus in 2012, will continue to produce local broadcasts at the school. The radio station is now owned by New York’s WNYC. MSU will also continue its partnership with the grant-supported news site NJ Spotlight.

NJTV will continue to collaborate with MSU, and Servidio hopes the station will be able to continue its student internship program and partner with the school on election coverage and other editorial initiatives.

Questions, comments, tips? lapin@current.org

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