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Engage Local

On June 15th and 16th, Mayor Ras Baraka and Montclair State’s Center for Cooperative Media co-hosted a national conference entitled Engage Local. On the 15th, a panel of media experts and community leaders gathered for a Town Hall style event at NJPAC with the theme Renaissance or Gentrification: How Do We Discuss Redevelopment In Newark? Panel members exchanged ideas about Newark’s transforming identity in the face of redevelopment. A diverse panel of experts representing a range of perspectives addressed concerns and answered audience questions. Panelists included Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson, publisher Derek Ware, Hycide Magazine founder Akintola Hanif, real estate attorney Frank Giantomasi and newspaper and magazine reporter Dale Russakoff.

The following day, at the Robert Treat Hotel, a series of speakers and panelists offered real-world examples of community engagement during a program entitled Media Engaging the Local Community. Among the highlights was a conversation between Marty Baron, editor-in-chief of The Washington Post, and Merrill Brown, director of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. They discussed the newspaper’s strategies for reaching new audiences and the deploying of engagement tools to develop audiences locally, nationally and internationally.

Mayor Baraka, who addressed a gathering of regional media prior to the NJPAC event, said the conference was an important opportunity for community stakeholders, economic leaders, and representatives of both the traditional and new forms of media to develop strategies to better inform residents about the facts, issues and initiatives they need to know about—and how they can make their voices heard. “Communication is at the heart of our efforts to transform Newark into a city we can all believe in,” he said, “and it is critical that we make use of 21st century technology to develop new means of speaking to and listening to each other.”


Photography by Mike Peters / Montclair State University